Updated on 09/16/2011 7:12AM

Few fear challenging Swept Overboard

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Swept Overboard ended 2001 as the top sprinter in California.

In October and November, he scored wins in the Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap and Hollywood Turf Express, and was fourth, beaten only a length, in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Belmont Park.

Apparently, those accomplishments did little to impress the opposition. When Swept Overboard launches his 2002 campaign in Sunday's $125,000 San Simeon Handicap at Santa Anita, he faces a strong field over about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf.

Of the other nine entrants, four have won stakes in the last year - Casey Griffin, Lake William, MacWard, and Nuclear Debate - and three have won allowance races down the hillside course at this meeting - Astonished, Gallant, and Malabar Gold. The other starters are Devine Wind, who has been stakes-placed this year, and Stratton, who was third in an allowance race on March 30.

"They're all taking a stab at him," said Craig Dollase, who trains Swept Overboard.

A 5-year-old, Swept Overboard has never started on the hillside turf course. A winner of 7 of 15 starts and $642,442, he has won 2 of 3 starts on turf, all at Hollywood Park over 5 1/2 furlongs.

"He obviously likes the turf," Dollase said. "I think he'll handle it with his style."

A closer, Swept Overboard will be ridden by Eddie Delahoussaye. There should be plenty of pace to set up a late kick.

Astonished, Malabar Gold, and Stratton will ensure a fast pace. Leading contenders Casey Griffin and Lake William are likely to stalk the pace.

Nuclear Debate will be in the middle of the field. A 7-year-old, he won the Haydock Park Sprint Cup last September in England, but has lost his last four starts. In the Reb's Policy Handicap on the hillside turf course on Feb. 27, he took up twice, ending any possible chance.

Lake William is the San Simeon's defending champion. He has one victory in six subsequent starts, the Dayjur Handicap at Hollywood Park on Dec. 17. Most recently, he was third as the favorite in the Reb's Policy Handicap, fading in the final furlong to finish behind Casey Griffin and Devine Wind.

"We didn't think the pace would be that fast," Mandella said. "We might have been better off letting him make a move from off the pace. But that's cheap excuses. We have to make sure he doesn't get Swept Overboard."

For Mandella's sake, hopefully Lake William's performance will be better than his jokes.

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