Cal-Bred Grazen Takes On Eastern Invaders In Swaps Stakes

Racing News
Posted 07.15.09 at 4:04

Grazen and jockey Rafael Bejarano on their way to victory in the Affirmed Handicap (G3) in June. ©BENOIT PHOTO

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (July 15, 2009) – California-bred Grazen, winner of three straight starts at the Spring/Summer Meet, will try to top a field which includes invaders from New York and Kentucky in Saturday’s $300,000 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Grazen, owned and bred by Nick Alexander, scored his first victory in the NTRA Stakes in his second career start here in April. The front-running son of Benchmark then won an allowance race before capturing the Grade III Affirmed Handicap while making his most recent start on June 20.

The Mike Mitchell-trained colt will face seven rivals in the 37th running of the Swaps, including Kentucky-based Advice and New York-based Conservative, the one-two finishers, respectively, in the Grade II Lexington at Keeneland in April.

The Swaps, a Grade II event for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on Cushion Track, will line up as follows from the rail out:

Conservative, with Mike Smith, carries 112 pounds; Massone, Joel Rosario, 112; Dover Street Art, Corey Nakatani, 112; Misremembered, Victor Espinoza, 112; Scorewithcater, Joseph Talamo, 118; Advice, Garrett Gomez, 120; Quindici Man, Michael Baze, 112, and Grazen, Rafael Bejarano, 118.

WinStar Farm’s Advice, trained by Todd Pletcher, scored a 15-1 upset in the Lexington, earning a spot in the Kentucky Derby, where he finished 13th. In his only start since then, the son of Chapel Royal finished fourth in the Grade II Jefferson Cup on the turf at Churchill Downs.

Phipps Stable’s Conservative, trained by Shug McGaughey, returned to New York after being beaten one length in the Lexington and finished fourth in the Hill Prince Stakes, which was contested on a sloppy track after being taken off the turf at Belmont Park.

Misremembered, a son of Candy Ride who is owned by Natalie Baffert and George Jacobs, finished second to Grazen in the Affirmed after winning two straight races at Hollywood Park. Beaten 2 ¾ lengths in the Affirmed, the Bob Baffert-trained ridgling will be making his fifth start in the Swaps. Baffert will be aiming for a record-tying fourth victory in the race after saddling Swaps winners Captain Steve (2000), Congaree (2001) and During (2003).

Quindici Man enters following a third in the Affirmed Handicap; Massone and Dover Street Art return to the main track after running third and fifth, respectively, in the Cinema Handicap, and Borderland Derby winner Scorewithcater will try to improve on a fourth-place finish in the Affirmed.

In Saturday’s co-featured $150,000 A Gleam Handicap, Coco Belle will carry high weight of 120 pounds as she seeks her third consecutive victory in the sprint for fillies and mares. The 5-year-old mare, a winner of seven of 23 starts and $450,1130 for Jerry and Ann Moss, won the Desert Stormer Handicap at six furlongs here in mid-June. The Grade II A Gleam will be contested over seven furlongs.

John Sadler, the trainer of Coco Belle, will also send out 3-year-old filly Evita Argentina in the A Gleam. She has won four of nine starts including the Grade II Santa Ynez over seven furlongs in January at Santa Anita Park.

The field for the 55th running of the A Gleam lines up as follows:

Ashley’s Kitty, Talamo, 116; Coco Belle, Smith, 120; Modification, Nakatani, 115; Silver Swallow, Gomez, 115; She’s Cheeky, Bejarano, 114; Lady Lumberjack, Baze, 112; Cry and Catch Me, Espinoza, 114; Lovely Isle, Alex Solis, 115, and Evita Argentina, Rosario, 114.

The A Gleam will run as the sixth race and the Swaps as the eighth on Saturday’s nine-race program. First post is at 1 p.m.

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