Late Closer Don't Get Mad is Swaps Choice

(from Hollywood Park notes)
The dramatic stretch runner Don't Get Mad figures to be a solid favorite over seven rivals in Saturday's $400,000 Swaps Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles.

Gary Stevens will ride B. Wayne Hughes' bay colt whose last three races at Churchill Downs include multi-length triumphs in the Derby Trial (gr. III) and Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) sandwiched around a fast-closing fourth behind Giacomo in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).

In the Swaps, Don't Get Mad's penchant for coming from far back meets a track surface that has a pronounced speed bias.

"I think he can adjust to whatever happens out there as far as pace goes," said trainer Ron Ellis. "Gary has got a good handle on him."

Don't Get Mad has won four of eight starts while banking $425,200.

His principal rivals would appear to be Indian Ocean and Surf Cat, one-two finishers in the 1 1/16-mile Affirmed Handicap (gr. III) at Hollywood Park on June 18 when separated by a neck.

Don't Get Mad logged a four-furlong breeze in :51 4/5 under exercise rider David Meah Tuesday.

"He went an easy half; he didn't need much," said Ellis. "He handled it fine. He trained here all winter so I wasn't that worried about it."

Don't Get Mad shipped in from Kentucky June 29 after winning the Northern Dancer in his last start on June 18.

Ellis is following the same pattern as his brother-in-law, Paul McGee, who won the Northern Dancer last year with Suave and sent him to Hollywood to run a creditable second to Rock Hard Ten.

"We're hoping to get first this time," said Ellis.

Stevens seeks a fourth victory in the Swaps. He won previously with Jovial in 1990, Thunder Gulch in 1995 and Congaree in 2001.

Terry Knight said Wednesday from Bay Meadows that he was placing unbeaten Old Man River on a van to be shipped south for the Swaps.

Old Man River, a Golden Eagle Farm homebred by Event of the Year, broke his maiden in a six-furlong sprint at Bay Meadows at first asking on April 23. He came back to win a 1 1/16-mile allowance race on turf at Golden Gate Fields on May 28.

"Ideally, I would have liked to find a little easier spot, but he acts like a decent horse," said Knight.

"I think he's better on dirt than on turf," added Knight. "He doesn't have a quick turn of foot. He kind of grinds it out."

$400,000 Swaps Stakes (gr. II, Race 7, 4:23 p.m.), 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Old Man River (CA), 112, Tyler Baze
2. Dover Dere (FL), 112, Patrick A. Valenzuela
3. Robador (CA), 120, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
4. Yes He's a Pistol (FL), 112, Danny Sorenson
5. Surf Cat (KY), 112, Alex O. Solis
6. Don't Get Mad (KY), 120, Gary L. Stevens
7. Indian Ocean (FL), 118, Jon K. Court
8. Khyber Pass (FL), 112, David R. Flores