11/28/2015 5:21PM

Castro scores turf stakes double with Swagger Jagger in Pulpit, Lira in Wait a While

Kenny Martin
Swagger Jagger wins the Pulpit Stakes by 2 1/4 lengths Saturday at Gulfstream Park West.

MIAMI – Eddie Castro showed he knows his way around the Gulfstream Park West turf course after winning both grass stakes on Saturday’s closing-day program, the $75,000 Pulpit aboard Swagger Jagger and filly counterpart the $75,000 Wait a While with Lira.

Swagger Jagger outfinished a game Life Imitates Art to register a well-deserved neck victory in the one-mile Pulpit. Lira proved a more decisive winner when rallying along the rail to a 2 1/4-length decision over the 50-1 pacesetter Recognition in the Wait a While, also at a mile.  

Castro kept Swagger Jagger within easy striking distance of the lead from the outset of the Pulpit, angled him out to commence his bid into the stretch, then bested Life Imitates Art through the final sixteenth. The latter took back early from post 14, moved to closer contention while saving ground on the second turn, steadied briefly awaiting clearance nearing the stretch, rallied on even terms inside the winner through midstretch, and just missed. Mountain Music Man, the 4-5 favorite, slipped inside the tiring leader to take command before six furlongs but could not contain the top pair at the end.

Swagger Jagger, a son of Crown of Thorns trained by Mike Maker, completed the distance over a firm course in 1:37.56 and paid $17.40.

“I let him settle, and when I had the chance, I took him to the outside, I asked him to run, and he ran hard,” Castro said of Swagger Jagger. “He’s a horse you need to stay busy on, and he tried hard.”

Lira parlayed a perfect trip into her second win in as many starts and first stakes victory. Castro allowed her to rate off the early leaders, waited patiently for a hole to open near the eighth pole, then drove the daughter of Giant’s Causeway along the rail to an easy victory. Recognition dug in gamely once displaced on the lead, outlasting the even-money Sapphire Kitten by a neck to finish second. The latter was hung wide throughout, rallying belatedly for third while never threatening the winner.

Lira is trained by Todd Pletcher for Mathis Stable LLC. Her final time of 1:38.85 was more than a full second slower than Swagger Jagger completed the same distance in winning the Pulpit an hour earlier. She paid $11.

Castro said Lira still is learning how to run.

“I wanted to be close up behind the two speed horses in the front,” said Castro. “I waited and waited to find room for my horse, and when I had room, she rushed up there. She's still a little immature, but she's a nice filly.”