Currency Swap wins the Hopeful Stakes.

Currency Swap wins the Hopeful Stakes.

Coglianese Photos/NYRA

Currency Swap Splashes Home in Hopeful Stakes

Son of High Cotton handles sloppy going better than rivals to win at rainy Saratoga.

Favored Currency Swap handled sloppy conditions at rainy Saratoga better than any of his nine juvenile rivals in the $250,000 Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes (gr. I), (VIDEO) edging a persistent Trinniberg  on closing day of the 2011 season Sept. 5.

Rajiv Maragh guided 9-5 choice Currency Swap to a three-quarters of a length victory for trainer Terri Pompay and owners Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence. A son of High Cotton bred in Florida by Stonecliff Farm, the bay colt is now two-for-two in his career after breaking his maiden by six lengths in his debut on a fast Saratoga main track Aug. 6.

“I don’t even know how to describe it," Pompay said of her feelings after winning. "I was so excited I thought I was going to pass out. This is my hometown. It’s been exciting and fun because I knew I was bringing a good horse. This horse is so special. I’m so proud of him that he came through."

As part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge series, Currency Swap earned a slot in the starting gate for the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.

The gooey going was the X-factor in the seven-furlong Hopeful since only one contestant, Trinniberg, had even been on an off-track before. Final time was 1:26.16.

Trinniberg, sent off at 68-1, finished second, with Big Blue Nation rallying for third. Second-choice J C's Pride was eased by jockey Jose Lezcano on the turn while racing mid-pack on the outside. He was vanned off the track.

Currency Swap was racing as part of a Klaravich/Lawrence entry with Clip the Coupons.

Shooting to the immediate lead was Trinniberg, ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, who sped through a swift opening quarter-mile in :21.91 while leading Vexor and Hunt Crossing. Currency Swap broke with the leading group as well before being taken in hand by Maragh. He advanced into second before Trinniberg completed a half-mile in :45.14.

Those two separated from the rest of the field on the turn, but the taxing conditions soon reduced the battle to a stagger-fest as Trinniberg and Currency Swap approached the furlong mark. Currency Swap, under right-handed urging from Maragh, finally overtook Trinniberg and prevailed under strong encouragement in the final sixteenth. The final furlong was run in 14.67 seconds.

“I tried to put him in a spot that was pretty ideal for me on the outside in the clear where my horse was really happy," Maragh said. "(Trinniberg) put up a really strong challenge. I wasn’t sure I was going to win it until after I had passed the wire.”

Big Blue Nation, with Ramon Dominguez aboard, finished with interest to take third, 3 3/4 lengths behind the runner-up.

Currency Swap, out of the Pine Bluffmare Echo Bluff, brought $70,000 as a yearling at Fasig-Tipton's Kentucky July sale last year. He recorded a 98 Beyer Speed Figure when he covered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.02 to break his maiden impressively one month ago. The Hopeful victory was worth $150,000 and boosted Currency Swap's career total to $180,000.

"The sloppy track was an unknown factor," Pompay said. "I wanted to showcase him on a dry track, but he handled it fine. I thought the other horse (Trinniberg) would stop, but he kept on going. I guess he really liked the slop. My horse showed guts because even when the other horse pushed him out a little bit, he kept digging in.

"This is just the start, because now we can go forward from here. Obviously we’d like to do the Breeders’ Cup; we have to decide whether he’ll have a race in between, or give him the time. I think this horse is going to get better as he gets older, and I think he’ll like the added distance as well.”

This was the first grade I win for Klaravich Stable since Subordination captured the Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar in 1998.

“We’re ecstatic," said Seth Klarman. "It’s been a long time between grade I's for us. We were excited about this horse before he even ran. Nick de Meric picked him out. He runs the farm [Manuden Farm in Ocala, Fla.] where our babies grow up.

“We’ll see how he comes out. His next spot, logically, will be the Champagne (gr. I)." The one-mile Champagne is Oct. 8 at Belmont Park.

Under equal weights of 120 pounds, Currency Swap paid $5.80, $3.40, $2.60. Trinniberg, who was fifth, beaten by 26 lengths on a sloppy track in the Saratoga Special (gr. II) Aug. 15, returned $32 and $11.40. The exacta was worth a generous $275.50. Big Blue Nation, a first-out maiden winner at Churchill Downs for trainer Todd Pletcher July 3, paid $5.20 to show.

Laurie's Rocket was a distant fourth, followed under the wire by Power World, I'll Have Another , Hunt Crossing, Vexor, and Clip the Coupons.