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Sweet Swap can't be caught in San Simeon

Sweet Swap could venture to Royal Ascot (Benoit Photo)
Hitherto known as the younger brother of Grade 1-winning millionaire Sidney's Candy, Hronis Racing's Sweet Swap is now emerging in his own right as a talented turf sprinter, as confirmed by his front-running success in Sunday's Grade 3, $101,000 San Simeon at Santa Anita. According to trainer John Sadler, who also conditioned Sidney's Candy, Royal Ascot could be on his agenda in June.

Sweet Swap stalked and pounced his way to his first stakes win in the prep, the February 23 Joe Hernandez, at this about 6 1/2-furlong trip on the unique downhill course. But on Sunday, the five-year-old son of Candy Ride decided to take the early initiative as the slight 9-5 favorite.

Under Joe Talamo, Sweet Swap rattled off splits of :21 3/5 and :43 3/5 on the firm turf, attended by Handsome Mike. He shook free of Handsome Mike at the top of the stretch and established an insurmountable lead. Lakerville, the 9-5 second choice, mounted a furious rally, but had simply left himself too much to do. Sweet Swap held sway by a half-length at the wire, stopping the clock in 1:11 2/5.

"What a nice horse," Talamo enthused. "What impressed me today was that he was pressured the whole way. He never got a breather at any point so for him to kick away like that was pretty impressive. We figured Lakerville was going to be coming at us, so our plan was to steal away a little bit once we hit the dirt. Fortunately for us, it worked out."

"It didn't look like there was a lot of speed in the race today," Sadler noted, "so we let him run a little more free. I think he's a little better coming from off the pace, but that's the way the course is playing, so we let him run on. It didn't look like there was a ton of speed in here, so we thought he'd be up close, first or second."

Lakerville's rider, Corey Nakatani, also commented that the course was favoring speed.

"He's doing great, he put in a big run and what more can you say, speed is winning," Nakatani said. "He's pretty tight right now, he ran his race. He came running at them but they just don't get as tired on the lead when the track is playing fast. He ran his race and the winner just ran a little better."

Handsome Mike finished another 2 1/2 lengths adrift in third. Next came Pure Tactics, Artest, Chiloquin, Pataky Kid and Forward March. Zimmer was eased in an abundance of caution by jockey Mike Smith, who believed that he had taken a bad step. Fortunately, Zimmer didn't appear to be injured when the track veterinarian looked him over.

Chips All In, the reigning titleholder, was scratched from his projected title defense.

Sweet Swap, who paid $5.60 to win, has won four of his last five. Victorious in his first start for the Hronis colors over this course and distance almost exactly one year ago to the day, he made it two in a row with a 3 1/4-length allowance tally at Hollywood last May. Sweet Swap was sidelined for eight months, and returned to action in the January 26 Clocker's Corner, where he was a rallying second to Lakerville after stumbling at the break. He made no such mistake in the Joe Hernandez, and continued his ascent here, advancing his scorecard to 12-6-2-1, $287,133.

Bred by the Craig Family Trust in Kentucky, Sweet Swap originally raced for his breeders. The chestnut was a good-looking debut winner at Del Mar as a juvenile in 2011, evoking comparisons with Sidney's Candy when wiring a 5 1/2-furlong Polytrack maiden in a sparkling 1:03 3/5. But he faded to fifth in the Jack Goodman on Santa Anita's dirt, more than a dozen lengths behind Secret Circle, and wasn't seen again for almost 10 months.

Sweet Swap got a belated start to his three-year-old campaign and resurfaced as a turf sprinter in the second half of 2012. He was acquired by Hronis after a near-miss in a second-level allowance in March 2013.

Older brother Sidney's Candy excelled on Santa Anita's old Pro-Ride surface, sweeping the 2010 San Vicente, San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby. After retreating to 17th in the Kentucky Derby, where his dirt debut came up sloppy, and an upset loss in the Swaps, he switched to turf and conquered the La Jolla Handicap in course-record time at Del Mar. Sidney's Candy concluded his sophomore season with a 7 1/4-length rout of the Sir Beaufort. Since that had been transferred from the turf to Santa Anita's new dirt track, he could boast notable wins on synthetic, turf and dirt.

Runner-up as the favorite in the 2011 Mervyn LeRoy and American Handicaps on Hollywood's Cushion Track and turf, respectively, he then joined Todd Pletcher. Sidney's Candy's highlights back East were a wire job in the Fourstardave at Saratoga and a third in the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland.

Sidney's Candy and Sweet Swap were produced by the Storm Cat mare Fair Exchange, the only registered foal from multiple Grade 1 turf star Exchange. The winner of more than $1.2 million, Exchange scored top-level wins in the 1993 Santa Ana and Santa Barbara as well as the 1994 Matriarch.

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