Tiago Looking to Earn Return Ticket Back East

Tiago Looking to Earn Return Ticket Back East
Photo: Benoit
Santa Anita Derby winner Tiago will try to capture the Swaps this Saturday at Hollywood.
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Yes, there are 3-year-olds west of the Mississippi this year. Which one, or ones, will earn the right to take on the big guns back east will be decided in Saturday’s $350,000 Swaps Stakes (gr. II), where Tiago will make his first start in California since winning the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I).

As of now, it looks as if a field of seven will assemble for the nine-furlong Swaps, which has been won by previous Santa Anita Derby winners Free House, Came Home, and Temperate Sil.

Tiago, who worked six furlongs in 1:13 3/5 at Hollywood Park last Sunday, holds a class advantage over his rivals, having finished a troubled third behind Rags to Riches and Curlin in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) in addition to his victory in the Santa Anita Derby.

The son of Pleasant Tap, owned and bred by Jerry and Ann Moss, will face a new cast of characters on Saturday, headed by Desert Code and Albertus Maximus, the one-two finishers in the Affirmed Handicap (gr. III) on June 17. Rounding out the prospective field are Laz Barrera Handicap (gr. III) winner Time to Get Even, Alydar Stakes winner Awesome Gambler, allowance winner Augment, and the stakes-placed Souvenir Slew.

Trainer John Shirreffs said Tiago is coming into the Swaps in excellent shape and will use the race as a steppingstone for another trip back east.

“We’ll look for a race back there,” he said. “The Travers (gr. I) would be a great race, but we’re not sure yet.”

Shirreffs was happy with Tiago’s third-place finish in the Belmont, in which he had an eventful trip and had to overcome a dawdling  pace and an unpleasant stay in the pre-race monitoring barn.

“Anytime you can place third in a classic you have to be happy,” he said.

Tiago, who like his half-brother Giacomo, comes from far off the pace, will have to depend on someone to put pressure on Desert Code, who wired his field in the Affirmed. Albertus Maximus likes to come from just off the pace, and Souvenir Slew has shown speed on the grass. Time to Get Even, who sat right behind a :44 1/5 half in the Laz Barerra, also should be close up early.

In another 3-year-old stakes of interest on Saturday, Team Valor International’s King of the Roxy, beaten a half-length by Tiago in the Santa Anita Derby, will use the grade III Barbaro Stakes (formerly the Leonard Richards) at Delaware Park as a prep for the seven-furlong King’s Bishop Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga.

Team Valor president Barry Irwin said he sees no problem dropping back from 1 1/16 miles to seven panels. He said they could have run the colt in the seven-furlong Tom Fool Stakes (gr. II) on July 4, but decided to run in the easier spot for $300,000.

“Our goal is to win the King’s Bishop,” Irwin said. “I asked Todd (Pletcher) which race he preferred and he said he wanted to go for the money as opposed to the one-turn.”



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