With an impressive 2 ¾-length victory in Saturday’s $200,000 Swale (G3) at Gulfstream Park, Strike Power has Thoroughbred racing fans eager to see him stretch out for a Kentucky Derby qualifier in his next outing.
The exciting 3-year-old colt is now two-for-two for Mark Hennig, sprinting clear from the start of the 7-furlong Swale and reeling off splits in :22.95 and :45.45. Strike Power accelerated powerfully into the stretch beneath Luis Saez, reaching the 6-furlong mark in 1:09.49 with a 3 ½-length advantage and cruised to the finish line much the best.
“He fell out of there nicely. When I saw the head-on (view) it looked like he broke out a little bit, maybe because he was on the rail last time,” Hennig said. “He’s just quick. He’s quick away from there right in hand. Then, I thought he had it pretty easy from there.”
A Courtlandt Farms homebred son of Speightstown, the chestnut stopped the teletimer in 1:22.68. He was favored at 4-5 over five rivals.
“He broke so sharp and was right there. He did everything perfect,” Saez said. “He’s a nice horse. When he came to the stretch he was just waiting to take off. The plan was to get to the lead. I know they had the two speed inside but I had the advantage on the outside, so I just broke and was right there. In the stretch he was waiting for the competition.”
Strike Power registered a whopping 103 BRIS Speed rating when opening his racing career with an eight-length romp over maiden special weight foes in a 6-furlong event at Gulfstream on December 23. Hennig was relieved to see his pupil make a seamless transition to stakes company.
“I was concerned. There’s not a lot of options,” Hennig said. “He’s a horse whose first race warranted a jump in class. Obviously, the figure was nice.”
Named champion sprinter of 2004, Speightstown has proven versatile at stud. The WinStar Farm stallion counts a pair of 1 ¼-mile Grade 1 winners, Jockey Club Gold victor Haynesfield and Travers hero Golden Ticket, among his leading offspring.
And Strike Power is eligible to receive a healthy dose of stamina from his female family. His dam, the Grade 3-placed Medaglia d’Oro mare Gold d’Oro, was a turf router and the Kentucky-bred sophomore counts Mr. Prospector and Theatrical as broodmare sires for his second and third maternal dams. This is the extended female family of four-time Grade 1 winner and $3.3 million earner Bet Twice, who captured the 1989 Belmont Stakes after finishing second in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
Hennig was asked about joining the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
“We’ll talk about it. There’s plenty of options out there,” the conditioner said. “Two-turns would be an option. We’ll have to see that through, probably. He’s horse who seems to relax when he’s there and he’s quick enough to put himself in the front.”
Gotta Go, off at 15-1, benefitted from the winner’s fast fractions by closing from last to second in the Swale stretch, edging 5-1 third choice Diamond King by a length in the final strides. Diamond King wound up three parts of a length better than 2-1 second choice Tricks to Doo in fourth. Empire Power and Piven came next under the wire.