Trainer Gary Contessa, a 30-year racetrack veteran, has had high hopes for Unswept weeks before the New York-bred colt made his winning 2-year-old debut on the final Saturday of the 2002 Saratoga Meet. Monday afternoon, on a special Martin Luther King Jr. Day card at Aqueduct, Unswept takes the first step to what Contessa hopes will lead the End Sweep colt to the starting gate for the Mar. 16 Gotham Stakes (gr. III). Unswept's task at hand will be the six-furlong $75,000 Fred "Cappy" Capossela. He meets a lightly raced, but potential-filled field of 3-year-olds. Five were entered.
Owned by former teen heartthrob David Cassidy and Andrew Farm, Unswept makes his first start outside the state-bred ranks in the "Cappy", but has earned speed figures fast enough to run with this group. In his last start, he finished second behind his undefeated stablemate Grey Comet in the 1 1/16-mile Damon Runyon. Unswept controlled the pace through the majority of the Damon Runyon, but gave up the lead just outside the eighth pole to Grey Comet, who returned from that race to win the Count Fleet two weeks ago. Grey Comet is currently regarded as the best 3-year-old stabled in New York. "At this point, I think Unswept is more cut out to be a sprinter," Contessa said. "He's probably best going six furlongs to a mile in one-turn races. The "Cappy" is a great first step for us. I'd like to run him here, then stretch him out to seven-eighths. I think he'd be a good fit for the Gotham. He's got a lot of quality to him. He couldn't be doing any better."Unswept owns two victories - against maidens and entry-level allowance horses - from four starts. His only off-the-board finish occurred in his second start when finishing nearly 20 lengths behind the undefeated Funny Cide in the Bertram F. Bongard.
Michael Gill, currently Gulfstream Park's leading owner, will be Monday by Philadelphia Jim, who has not run a bad race in three career starts and figures to go off the "Cappy" favorite for trainer John Robb. A colt by Mr. Greeley, Philadelphia Jim enters the "Cappy" on the heels of a convincing win in Laurel's Dancing Count on New Year's Day. Two weeks prior to the Dancing Count, Philadelphia Jim yielded grudgingly in the final yards of an inner track allowance race here at the Big A. It was the colt's first start since an impressive debut win back in mid June.
"He actually had a chip in his ankle removed after his first race," Robb said. "We missed some time with him, but I still love this horse.".
$75,000 Fred "Cappy" Capossela, 3-year-olds, 6 furlongs
PP. HORSE, JOCKEY, WGT.
1. Devout, Javier Castellano, 116
2. Alysweep, Richard Migliore, 116
3. Unswept, Aaron Gryder, 116
4. Philadelphia Jim, Ramon Dominguez, 120
5. Work For Boots, C.C. Lopez, 116