Forty Tales Likely Choice in Swale Stakes
Perretti Racing Stable LLC’s Forty Tales, who closed with a furious rush to fall a half-length short of catching Honorable Dillon in the $150,000 Hutcheson Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 2 as the favorite for trainer Todd Pletcher, will get another chance over the same seven-furlong distance in Saturday’s $150,000 Swale Stakes (G2).
Leading Gulfstream jockey Javier Castellano gets the call on Forty Tales in the bulky field of 13 3-year-olds. A son of Tale of the Cat purchased for $80,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky yearling sales, Forty Tales had won his two previous starts impressively, his debut at Aqueduct on Nov. 24 by 2 ¾ lengths and an ‘a other than’ allowance at Parx on Jan. 5 by 3 ¾ lengths.
An accomplished contender making his season debut in the Swale will be Ronald Kirk, John Bates and partners’ Are You Kidding Me with jockey Edgar Prado aboard for trainer Roger Attfield as he makes his first start since a close-up fifth-place finish behind Joha in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland on Oct. 6.
“He had some poor racing luck in some of his races last year, including the Breeders’ Futurity when he didn’t get a clean run,” said Attfield from his Payson Park winter headquarters. “He missed a little time as did some other horses that got sick up here, but he’s over that and done very well training since then.
“It’s time for him to get started. He did run well in a couple of sprints at Woodbine last year, but I think his future will probably be going a distance. I think he’s a very promising prospect.” Are You Kidding Me drew the far outside post 13.
A Kentucky homebred by Away and Hide, Are You Kidding Me broke his maiden in an ‘off the turf’ race at Woodbine in late July in his third start and won an a turf allowance in late August. He ran a very big race to finish second by a half-length in the $250,000 Summer Stakes (G2) on turf in September before his good but troubled trip in the Breeders’ Futurity when he was beaten 2 ½ lengths for it all.
Curtis Green’s Kentucky homebred Tulira Castle will bid to bounce back from a very disappointing effort when eased in the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) on Jan. 26 behind Itsmyluckyday and Shanghai Bobby. That race followed his very good 2 ½ lengths allowance victory going a mile over the track on Dec. 8 for trainer Jim DiVito.
“He had a case of the ‘thumps’ from a reaction to Lasix,” said Divito, referring to the condition resulting from an electrolyte imbalance in a horse’s body caused by heat and/or dehydration. The ‘thumps’ affect heart rate and breathing.
“They don’t suffer any long term affects and there are things you can do to prevent it from recurring. Basically, we’re turning back (distance) and starting all over again with him.”
Bruce Chandler and partners’ Merit Man will likely get solid support despite a somewhat disappointing performance last out when fourth in the Hutcheson, although beaten only 2 ¾ lengths for it all. Jockey Kent Desormeaux gets aboard the son of With Distinction for the first time. Merit Man had been nearly perfect in four previous starts for trainer Bob Hess, Jr.
An $75,000 OBS April 2-year-old sales purchase, Merit Man made his first three starts in California last year. Following a winning debut at Del Mar in early September, he won the $100,000 Tim Conway Stakes at Santa Anita by 5 ½ lengths in early October and lost a nose decision in the final steps as the favorite in the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.
In one start before the Hutcheson at Gulfstream this winter, Merit Man won the $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes at six furlongs on New Year’s Day.
An intriguing prospect in the Swale is Up Hill Stable’s Clearly Now with jockey Luis Saez in the saddle for trainer Brian Lynch. The Kentucky-bred by Horse Greeley finished a distant third last out in the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) going 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 26 behind Itsmyluckyday and Shanghai Bobby in his first start of the season.
Clearly Now made three starts last year in Canada at Woodbine, winning a pair of sprints and finishing third in the $150,000 Display Stakes going 1 1/16 miles on Dec. 1 when beaten five lengths by Avie’s Quality with My Name Is Michael second.
“I just don’t think he’s ready for two turns against the kind of horses he would have to face down here this winter,” said Lynch “Maybe he’ll stretch out when we get back to Toronto and matures a little later this year. In the meantime, I think turning back to seven furlongs for this race will be ideal for him.”
New England Patriot wide receiver Wes Welker’s gelding Undrafted ran a huge race to finish third in the Hutcheson, beaten a half-length for it all for trainer Wesley Ward and comes back in the Swale with jockey Julio Garcia in the saddle breaking from the rail. The son of Purim won a one-mile turf allowance early in the meet and finished third in the one-mile Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year’s Day before the Hutcheson.
Completing the field for the Swale are Silverton Hill LLC’s Little Distorted, Joe Bravo; Juan Cintron, Jr.’s Dighton, Manoel Cruz; Bermuda Limestone Stable’s Gombey Dancer, Corey Lanerie; James Hood’s Nevada, Paco Lopez; Taylor Rice’s Triple Cross, Mario Pino; Herman Van Den Broeck’s Singanothersong, Jozbin Santana; and Someday Farm’s Red Judicata, Joe Rocco, Jr.