Pica Slew Could Give Lynch Special Win in Saturday's Sugar Swirl
By Jack Will
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Terra Di Sienna Stable’s 4-year-old filly Pica Slew has shown considerable talent in her limited career of six races from coast to coast. But she will likely be a longshot as she makes her first start since January at Santa Anita and first start in the care of trainer Brian Lynch in Saturday’s $100,000 Sugar Swirl Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
“It looks like the race is coming up very tough,” said Lynch Wednesday morning from Palm Meadows, “But she’s doing well and we thought we’d try her. She’s been with me at Woodbine most of the year and had a pretty nasty splint bone injury, which we had operated on in May.
“It would be quite a trip to win the race having trained Sugar Swirl through part of her career,” said Lynch, who was a former assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel at Woodbine when Sugar Swirl began her career as a 2-year-old in 2005. Jockey Luis Contreras, leading rider at Woodbine this year, will have the mount on Pica Slew.
Lynch was on his own with a division at Palm Meadows in 2008 when Stronach Stable’s Sugar Swirl, a daughter of Touch Gold, swept the three Graded sprint stakes on the Gulfstream schedule that winter – the First Lady Handicap (G3), now known as the Sugar Swirl, the Hurricane Bertie Handicap (G3) and the Shirley Jones Handicap (G2).
Pica Slew is a Florida homebred daughter of Pico Central and began her career with one start as a 2-year-old at Woodbine, finishing sixth in the My Dear Stakes in late June of 2009 when trained by Greg DeGannis. She re-surfaced at Calder the next spring with trainer Joe Calascibetta and won three straight, including the $150,000 Azalea Stakes (G3) in July.
In just two more starts since then, Pica Slew finished eighth of nine in the Test Stakes (G1) at Saratoga in August after setting the pace into the stretch when trained by Mike Hushion. She didn’t race again until Jan. 30 this year at Santa Anita when tiring to sixth after setting the pace in the Santa Monica Handicap (G1) for trainer John Shirreffs.
Pica Slew faces seven rival fillies and mares in the six-furlong Sugar Swirl with Hardacre Farm’s 3-year-old Florida homebred Pomeroy’s Pistol will likely be the favorite for owner-breeder-trainer Amy Tarrant in her first start since finishing a good fourth in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4, beaten 3 ¾ lengths by upset winner Musical Romance.
Jockey Javier Castellano gets back aboard Pomeroys Pistol, a daughter of Pomeroy that showed last winter she liked the Gulfstream track just fine in three starts when second in the Old Hat Stakes (G3), won the Forward Gal Stakes (G2) and finished third in the Davona Dale Stakes (G2). She punched her ticket to the Breeders’ Cup with a four-length victory in the Gallant Bloom Handicap (G2) at Belmont Park in September.
Another contender in the Sugar Swirl that had had a good season in 2011 is R. Larry Johnson’s 3-year-old Kentucky homebred Strike the Moon with jockey Edgar Prado in the saddle for trainer Michael Trombetta. The daughter of Malibu Moon finished second in three straight stakes earlier this year, including a head defeat behind St. John’s River in the Delaware Oaks (G2) in July.
Strike the Moon scored her biggest victory in the $400,000 Charles Town Oaks in September and finished fifth last out in the Raven Run Stakes (G2) run on Polytrack at Keeneland on Oct. 22, but was beaten only three-quarters of a length for it all in a good effort.
Completing the field for the Sugar Swirl are Black Swan Stable’s Roman Treasure, Joe Bravo; Charles Dimino’s Catch a Thief, Paco Lopez; Silverton Hill Farm’s Indulgence, Julien Leparoux; Gold Mark Stable’s Moontune Missy, Manoel Cruz; and Ron Magers, Bob Marcocchio and partners’ Third Chance, Jozbin Santana.