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Power Looks to Strike Twice in Saturday’s Swale

Jan 31, 2018
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Courtlandt Farms’ Strike Power made such an auspicious debut Dec. 13 that trainer Mark Hennig has chosen Saturday’s $200,000 Swale (G2) at Gulfstream Park for the son of Speightstown’s second career start.

Strike Power came within .33 seconds of Discreet Dancer’s 2011 track record for 5 ½ furlongs with his 1:02.67 clocking. The Kentucky-bred colt broke cleanly from his rail post position to quickly take a lead that he would never relinquish, scoring by eight lengths under Luis Saez.

“It was a really nice debut,” Hennig said. “Hopefully he can run something equivalent to that.”

The seven-furlong Swale is one of five graded-stakes races for 3-year-olds on Saturday’s program at Gulfstream Park, headlined by the $350,000 Holy Bull (G2).

“It’s a big step up but there’s not a bunch in there that have been running in graded stakes, so they’re kind of all stepping up. Certainly going for the second start of his life into a stake is still a tough row to hoe,” Hennig said.

Hennig is confident that the timing is right for the $300,000 purchase at the 2016 Keeneland September sale to return in the Swale. 

 “That’s why we tried to have some spacing because I didn’t want to run him back too quick. There was a seven-eighths a-other-than back like in three weeks, but I thought that was a little too quick,” Hennig said. “Hopefully he can run close to that number or doesn’t regress too much.”

Leading rider Luis Saez has the return mount aboard Strike Power, who drew the outside post position in a field of six 3-year-olds.

Derek Chin’s Piven enters the Swale with considerably more experience than the Hennig trainee, having started five times, including a four-length triumph in the six-furlong Limehouse Stakes at Gulfstream Park Jan. 6.

“He ran to the way he was working. It was a restricted race. This race is going to be a whole different ballgame,” trainer Kevin Attard said. “He’s going to have to step up. I don’t know why not. He’s a young horse; he’s improving. We’re hoping he goes in the right direction.”
Piven had demonstrated talent in his first four career starts on Woodbine’s synthetic surface, breaking his maiden at first asking and placing twice in stakes, before making his dirt debut at Gulfstream Park Jan. 6.

“He had trained well on it back home. I’ve always liked him.” Attard said. “It was a restricted race. He had come here and had a couple of sensational works. It looked like he was adjusting to Florida and Gulfstream, so we gave him a shot in a race I thought was reachable and he confirmed it.”

The Florida-bred son of Prospective, who was purchased for $75,000 at the 2017 April OBS 2-year-olds-in-training sale, will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. for the first time. Jose Ortiz, who had ridden Piven to victory in the Limehouse, has opted to ride Lael Stable’s Tricks to Doo in the Swale.

The Arnaud Delacoeur-trained Tricks to Doo broke his maiden in his second career start by 5 ½ lengths at Laurel in October before coming back to capture the six-furlong Inaugural at Tampa Bay Downs by 7 ¼ lengths Dec. 1. 

Diamond King enters the Swale with three dominating triumphs in four starts, his only loss coming in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), in which he lost his rider after clipping heels with another horse early in the 1 1/16-mile race.

Owned by Cash is King LLC and D.J. Stable LLC, the son of Quality Road won his first two races at Parx and bounced back from his unlucky start at Churchill Downs with a 1 ½-length victory in the $100,000 Heft Stakes at Laurel Dec. 30. 

Trainer John Servis has awarded Frankie Pennington the return mount.

Lothenbach Stables’ Gotta Go, who is slated to make his 2018 debut in the Swale, will also try to bounce back from a rough experience in the Kentucky Jockey Club, in which he ran into traffic on both turns before finishing 13th.

In his previous start, the Ian Wilkes-trained son of Shanghai Bobby closed with a rush to capture the Oct. 29 Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs in his first start around two turns. He previously broke his maiden in a six-furlong race at Churchill.

Chris Landeros has the mount.

Secure Investments’ Empire Power, who finished third behind Piven in the Limehouse, rounds out the field. Trainer Antonio Sano named Edgard Zayas to ride the son of Bodemeister.

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