Trinniberg and Currency Swap, two of the nation's best 3-year-old sprinters, square off once again in the $500,000 Foxwood King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I) Aug. 25 at Saratoga Race Course.
The seven-furlong King's Bishop, to be run immediately before the Travers Stakes (gr. I), shapes up as a terrific battle. Ten sophomores were entered in the race, which is the 11th on the Saturday program with a 5:10 p.m. EDT probable post.
Currency Swap, winner of Saratoga's Amsterdam Stakes (gr. II) last month, may rate a slight edge based on his 3-for-3 record at the Spa. Trinniberg, however, defeated Currency Swap with a mighty front-running effort in the seven-furlong Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park in June.
Both Currency Swap, with regular pilot Rajiv Maragh along, and Trinniberg, to be guided once again by Willie Martinez, were assigned top weight of 121 pounds. Currency Swap is the 5-2 morning line favorite, with Trinniberg pegged at 7-2/
Klaravich Stable's Currency Swap, trained by Teresa Pompay, pressed pacesetter Doctor Chit past mid-stretch in the 6 1/2-furlong Amsterdam July 29 before sweeping past in the final sixteenth of a mile to win going way by nearly two lengths.
Pompay said Currency Swap was forced to push Trinniberg in the Woody Stephens and couldn't get to the speedier colt in the lane. She's hoping for more speed in the King's Bishop, which it appears she'll get.
"Currency Swap needs a little breather and then go, and he had to kind of go balls to the walls the whole way in that race, and he didn't catch him," Pompay said. "I'm hoping someone else goes out and softens Trinniberg up a little bit, and we can be ready to pounce from there."
The son of High Cotton graduated at first asking at Saratoga more than one year ago by six lengths. The bay colt came right back in his second race to claim the Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes (gr. I), defeating Trinniberg by three-quarters of a length on a sloppy track.
Pompay said she can't really explain Currency Swap's affinity for Saratoga, which is her hometown. Currency Swap shipped to Saratoga Aug. 19.
"He's been doing better every race, so I think part of it is he's just getting bigger and stronger, wider, and he's got a great head on his shoulders," she said. "He's got a lot of confidence, so part of it is that. But I will say that when he goes up there, he knows he's a handful and he walks around there like he owns the place. He loves the track surface there also. I don't know why, he just does."
Currency Swap, currently based at Monmouth Park, was briefly on the Triple Crown train this spring. But after an 11th-place showing as the favorite in the Illinois Derby (gr. III), Pompay has concentrated on sprints. Currency Swap, who breezed a bullet :47 flat (best of 34) for a half-mile at Monmouth Aug. 18, has won two of three starts at the tricky seven-furlong distance. Overall, he has four wins and two seconds from seven lifetime races with earnings of $448,300.
Trinniberg, trained by Bisnath Parboo for his son Shivananda Parbhoo and Sherry Parbhoo, is also quite proficient at seven furlongs, winning three of four attempts with his only loss coming at odds of 68-1 in last summer's Hopeful. He has won three graded stakes since then, including the Swale (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park in March, the Bay Shore (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack in April, and the Woody Stephens June 9 on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
The Teuflesberg colt is coming off a neck loss in the July 7 Carry Back (gr. III) at Calder Casino & Race Course, a race in which he dueled with eventual winner Fort Loudon to the wire. Trinniberg has posted three works at Saratoga since the Carry Back, most recently breezing a sharp three furlongs in :35.56 from the gate Aug. 17. With four wins and three seconds from 10 starts, Trinniberg leads the field in earnings with $611,300.
Parhboo said Trinniberg was meant to run in the Amsterdam but wound up in the Carry Back to help his hometown track, Calder, fill a race that only drew five participants. He said his colt wasn’t primed for the race.
"For him not to be ready and to run a race like that, it was amazing for that," he said. "We were totally not prepared for the Carry Back, but now there is no excuse. He is 100 percent ready."
Trinniberg is the horse to catch in the King's Bishop, though he'll have to withstand pressure from Mill House's Doctor Chit. The son of War Front was headed for the first time in four starts this year when Currency Swap swept past him in the Amsterdam, which was Doctor Chit's graded stakes debut. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Doctor Chit won his three previous races by a combined margin of nearly 15 lengths.
Jacks or Better Farm's Florida homebred Fort Loudon is also in the field, looking to bounce back from a fifth-place effort in the Amsterdam for trainer Nick Zito. The bay colt by Awesome Of Course won his three previous starts at Calder, all in stakes company.
“He’s a nice horse,” said Zito, who took over the training of Fort Loudon prior to the Amsterdam from Florida-based conditioner Stanley Gold. “Obviously, I would have liked to wait for this race, but we (ran in the Amsterdam) and got a work over the track. So be it. The horse looks good; he likes it here, so we’re going for it.”
Zito also entered Robert LaPenta's Spin Out, a maiden winner that most recently was second in a first-level Saratoga allowance race at seven furlongs July 21.
Three others in the King's Bishop field come out of the Amsterdam. Mike McCarty's Unbridled's Note finished nicely to be third at 13-1 odds in his Saratoga debut for trainer Steve Asmussen. The stalker Laurie's Rocket, a minor Oaklawn Park stakes winner in April trained by D. Wayne Lukas for Willis D. Horton, ran fourth while drifting out in the stretch. And a better effort can be expected from George Bolton's Gun Boat, who nearly landed on his face at the start of the Amsterdam and was never a factor while sixth. Bob Baffert trains the son of Congrats , who will add blinkers for the King's Bishop.
Augustin Stables' Ever So Lucky shortens up for trainer Jonathan Sheppard after finishing third in Saratoga's nine-furlong Curlin Stakes, contested on sloppy going July 27.
Rounding out the field is Willy Beamin, stepping up in class after four consecutive wins over New York-breds for trainer Rick Dutrow Jr., who claimed him for $25,000 at Aqueduct in March. Willy Beamin won the Mike Lee at Belmont by four lengths June 24.
Willy Beamin (10-1), who also captured the 1 1/8-mile Albany for New York-breds Aug. 22, was entered in the King's Bishop anyway.
“If Rick says, ‘Let’s do it’ then, you know, we’ll do it,” said owner James Riccio after the Albany. “It’s all up to Rick. We’ve won at seven-eighths (in the Mike Lee Stakes on June 24), we’ll cut back and maybe we’ll get lucky. I’m not saying we’re going to win or anything, but he’ll show up. To be here Saturday is a great day.”
$500,000 Foxwoods King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I, Race 11, 5:10 p.m.), 3YOs, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Willy Beamin (NY), A Garcia, 119, R E Dutrow Jr.
2. Gun Boat (FL), R Bejarano, 117, B Baffert
3. Currency Swap (FL), R Maragh, 121, T M Pompay
4. Fort Loudon (FL), J Alvarado, 119, N P Zito
5. Laurie's Rocket (KY), J Rosario, 119, D W Lukas
6. Spin Out (KY), R Napravnik, 117, N P Zito
7. Ever So Lucky (KY), J R Velazquez, 117, J E Sheppard
8. Unbridled's Note (KY), J R Leparoux, 117, S M Asmussen
9. Trinniberg (KY), W Martinez, 121, B Parboo
10. Doctor Chit (KY), R A Dominguez, 119, T A Pletcher
Blinkers On: Gun Boat