06/17/2004 11:00PM

Fifty years later, Swales family still in the game


Trueamericanspirit, the 4-year-old New Jersey-bred aiming for his second consecutive stakes score in Sunday's Lincroft Handicap at Monmouth, was given a name inspired by Sept. 11. But he also reflects the spirit of the Swales family and the long battle to preserve New Jersey racing.

"The days of just surviving are hopefully behind us, and now we can all start thriving," said Tom Swales IV, Trueamericanspirit's breeder/owner.

He was referring to the new agreement that pours $86 million from New Jersey casinos into purses at Monmouth and The Meadowlands over the next four years. As vice president of the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association of New Jersey, Swales was involved in the process that led to that agreement.

The Swales family has maintained a foothold in New Jersey breeding and racing for more than a half-century, holding on as the racing calendar dwindled and many other breeders drifted from the scene. Their Tee-N-Jay Farm in the Monroe County town of Edison was established in the 1950's by Tom Swales Sr. and his brother Jim Swales (origin of the T and J).

"They owned a block factory named Best Block," Tom Swales IV said of his grandfather and great-uncle. "And they kept a few horses at their block plant. Then they realized that was not an appropriate place for horses, so they decided to start a farm."

Tee-N-Jay's foundation horse was Duke Tom, a 1970 son of No Robbery who won two stakes and placed in two graded stakes for the Swales brothers. Duke Tom then had a long stud career at their farm.

Tom Swales IV, who grew up well acquainted with the family's horse background, launched a career as a sportswriter for United Press International when his grandfather died in 1991. By then, the family's main business had become commercial real estate, and young Swales was drafted to help out.

"My father [Tom Swales III] and I were busy with the real estate interests at first, but when we got that to where we wanted, we turned to the farm," said Swales, adding that his sister, Jean Volosin, is closely involved with all aspects of the business. "We went to the 1999 Keeneland November sale and bought several broodmares. One of them was Ms. Misery, in foal to Is It True."

Purchased by Swales for $18,000, Ms. Misery, an unraced daughter of Silver Ghost-Satan's Bride (by Skywalker), foaled Trueamericanspirit the following spring at Tee-N-Jay Farm.

Trueamericanspirit showed promise from the beginning, winning easily his first time out at 2, and placing third in the New Jersey Futurity. He was claimed from his breeders for $60,000 in November of his 2-year-old season, and was purchased back privately for the same amount in the spring of 2003.

"He runs his heart out," said Tim Hills, who has trained Trueamericanspirit throughout his career for the Swales family. "He's a big, tall horse with an efficient way of moving, and he has a lot of confidence in himself. He never has a bad day."

Trueamericanspirit reached new heights his last time out, defeating a competitive field of New Jersey-breds to win the John J. Reilly Handicap on May 29, opening day at Monmouth.

That race was the Swales family's first stakes win by a homebred. But Tee-N-Jay is far from a one-horse outfit. The Swaleses have six horses in training with Hills, at Monmouth and Belmont Park, and two of them are stakes winners. Their other standout is the 3-year-old filly Vous (by Wild Rush), winner of last year's Hollywood Wildcat Stakes at Calder and runner-up in this year's Via Borghese Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Tee-N-Jay Farm, managed by George Vlcej and encompassing 125 acres, is home to the Swales family's 16 broodmares and two young commercial stallions. Standing at stud are Deputy Warlock, a multiple stakes-winning son of Silver Deputy; Date Stone (by Forty Niner), whose first foals are yearlings; and Unlimited Sky (Northrop-La Soufriere, by Explodent), whose first full crop was born in 2004.