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Swagger Jagger Notches Feel-Good Win in Pulpit Stakes

Nov 28, 2015
Lira Cashes In with Late Charge in Wait a While
 HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Swagger Jagger prevailed over 13 rivals in the $75,000 Pulpit Stakes at Gulfstream Park West Saturday, providing owner Kevin Warner with a considerably better outcome than he had in last year’s edition of the mile turf stakes for 2-yeear-olds last year.
“I had a horse by the name of Firespike in the race last year and I came down for the race. I flew home the next day and had a stroke,” said the Lexington, Ky. resident, who owns the son of Crown of Thornes in a partnership. “I was in the ICU for eight or nine days. It’s kind of bittersweet to come back here and win this race after what happened last year.”
Warner, whose 2014 entrant in the Pulpit finished eighth, was back in good health and decidedly happier with the outcome of Saturday’s race, one of six $75,000 stakes for 2-year-olds on Saturday’s 11-race program.
The Mike Maker-trained juvenile, who was set to post as the 7-1 fourth choice, raced between horses in mid-pack along the backstretch and far turn, as longshots Copingaway and At the Ready showed the way with fractions of :23.99, :49.01 and 1:37.56 for six furlongs. Jockey Eddie Castro needed to bide his time while lacking room at the top of the stretch before finding room to swing Swagger Jagger to the outside. Once in the clear, the Florida-bred colt kicked in with a steady drive that yielded a victory by a neck over late-closing Life Imitates Art. Mountain Music Man, the 4-5 favorite who grabbed the lead in mid-stretch with an inside move under jockey Edgard Zayas, finished third, a length back.
“I let him settle and when I had the chance I took him to the outside, I asked him to run and he ran hard,” Castro said. “He’s a horse you need to stay busy on and he tried hard.”
Swagger Jagger, who broke his maiden on turf in his prior start after finishing off the board in a pair of Florida Sire Stakes events on dirt, ran the mile in 1:37.56.
“The credit goes to the trainer, Mike Maker, and his assistant, Mattie (Martin). They’ve done a great job with this horse,” said Warner, expressing his pleasure with Castro’s ride in a 14-horse field.
Castro came back two races later to ride the winner of the other turf stakes on Saturday’s 2-year-old stakes card, guiding Todd Pletcher-trained Lira to a 2 ¼-length victory in the $75,000 Wait a While, a mile race for fillies.
Owned by Mathis Stable LLC, Lira saved ground behind the leaders around the first turn and long the backstretch as Recognition, a 50-1 longshot ridden by Jeffrey Sanchez, set the pace while being pressed by Pancake and Most Inspiring. The Todd Pletcher-trained filly was in striking distance at the top of the stretch but lacked running room until Castro spotted a hole along the inside. When asked for her run Lira responded with a strong kick to draw clear to the wire. Recognition held second, a neck ahead of Sapphire Kitten, the even-money favorite ridden by Tyler Gaffalione.
“I wanted to be close up behind the two speed horses in the front. I waited and waited to find room for my horse, and when I had room she rushed up there. She's a very nice filly. She makes a nice impression. She's a little immature still but she's a nice filly,” Castro said. “Thank God that I have a lucky day. I'm glad. I just want to keep it up.”
Lira, a daughter of Giant’s Causeway, had run only once previously, capturing a maiden special weight even over the Gulfstream Park West turf course Oct. 11.
“She really hasn’t gotten it all together yet,” said Anthony Sciametta, assistant trainer to Pletcher. “I think she’s really going to be OK down the road.”
Lira, the 9-2 third choice, ran a mile on turf in 1:38.85.

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