Sharp Humor (inside) and Mark Guidry pull ahead of Noonmark to win the Swale Stakes.

Sharp Humor (inside) and Mark Guidry pull ahead of Noonmark to win the Swale Stakes.

Equi-Photo, Ryan McAlinden

Sharp Humor No Joke in Swale Surprise

The gritty 13-1 outsider Sharp Humor battled back along the rail to defeat the heavy choice Noonmark in the $150,000 Swale (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream Park Saturday.

It remains to be seen if the New York-bred Distorted Humor  colt can be a factor on the Triple Crown trail, but he was certainly game in turning back the stalking 7-5 favorite Noonmark Saturday for his third consecutive win. Ridden by Mark Guidry, Sharp Humor was battling on the front end all the way before disposing of pacesetter Praying for Cash in the stretch. Noonmark edged up on the outside under Shaun Bridgmohan in the final furlong to get the lead, but Sharp Humor would not give in and finished best under much urging.

"He's just a fast, fast horse," winning trainer Dale Romans said. "I know he's a New York-bred, but he's a well-bred New York-bred. He does everything right. He's got a real high cruising speed.

"I don't think we'll be heading back to New York just yet," Romans added. "We're going to look at some bigger races down the road, and see if this horse can go around two turns. I don't know what those races are yet. I wasn't thinking that far ahead. There's already been one Distorted (Humor) New York-bred to win the Derby (Funny Cide). Let's see if we can get there."

The final time for the seven-furlong Swale was 1:22.

"We followed the game plan (to be on the pace)," Guidry said. "It went real well. We had some concern at the eighth pole, but my horse fought back real hard."

The late running Court Folly, ridden by Chris DeCarlo, finished third, and In Summation tired to fourth. Catcominatcha, winner of the Iroquois (gr. III) last year at Churchill Downs, broke down on the backstretch.

Track veterinarian Dr. Mary Scollay said, "He sustained a catastrophic fracture of the right front cannon bone, necessitating euthanasia."

Praying for Cash set a respectable pace of :22 and :44 2/5 before giving way to Sharp Humor, who broke from post 11. He completed six furlongs in 1:09 1/5.

Purdedel Stable's winning bay colt had been off since Oct. 22, when he won the one-mile Sleepy Hollow for New York breds on a sloppy sealed track by a half-length at Belmont Park. Sharp Humor, who beat New York breds in the Bongard at seven furlongs prior to that, is nominated to the Triple Crown.

Patricia S. Purday bred Sharp Humor, who was produced by the Hansel mare Bellona. Sharp Humor won for the fourth time in six starts and increased his earnings to $266,410.

He paid $29.60, $10.80, and $6.80. Noonmark, a two-length winner of a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream Feb. 11 for trainer Steve Asmussen, returned $3.60 and $2.80. Court Folly was $4.60 to show.

In Summation, Beacon Shine, Praying for Cash, Electrify, Bear Character, Yes He's the Man, and City Attraction completed the order of finish.

(Chart, Equibase)