Michael Pegram's 3-year-old colt Captain Steve employed similar racing tactics to those used in his Iowa Derby victory earlier this month to win the $300,000 winner's share of the $500,000 Swaps Stakes (gr. I) Sunday at Hollywood Park. After Tiznow angled out for racing room, the full brother of Budroyale rallied for second place, 2 1/2 lengths behind the winner.
Padua Stable's Millencolin led around the first turn and into the backstretch with Bob Baffert trainee Captain Steve just to his outside in second place. Spicy Stuff challenged for the early lead before shuffling back to third while racing three-wide. As they approached the second turn, Tiznow ranged up on the inside but had nowhere to run with a wall of horses in front of him. Captain Steve assumed the lead on the turn and kicked clear in the stretch, easily holding off the challenge of Tiznow. Trudy McCaffery and John Toffan's Spacelink finished third, followed by Grey Memo, Millencolin, and Spicy Stuff.
"I was really impressed by him," said Corey Nakatani, who rode Captain Steve for the first time Sunday. "But I was impressed with this colt early on in his career."
The victory was the second in succession for Captain Steve, who was held winless through the first six months of the year. It also marks his first graded stakes win since the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) in December. Captain Steve became the third horse to sweep both the Hollywood Futurity and Swaps Stakes, joining Temperate Sil and Best Pal. Captain Steve (Fly So Free--Sparkling Delite, by Vice Regent) was bred in Kentucky by Roger Laubach and has won six of 15 career starts.
Captain Steve completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.01 over a fast track and returned $3.80, $2.40, and $2.10. The $1 exacta paid $4.60. (Chart, Equibase)