02/26/2014 4:24PM

Gulfstream Park notes: Swale could have Kentucky Derby implications this year

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Barbara D. Livingston
No Nay Never will be making his first start on dirt in Saturday's Grade 2 Swale Stakes.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – In its early years, the seven-furlong Swale was considered a major Kentucky Derby prep. The list of notable 3-year-olds to have won or placed in the Swale, from its inception in 1985 through 1990, included Chief’s Crown, Creme Fraiche, Seeking the Gold, Easy Goer, and Summer Squall.

It’s been a while since the Swale has had any Derby implications. But such could be the case on Saturday when Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Havana launches his 3-year-old campaign against six rivals, including the undefeated No Nay Never, in the Grade 2 Swale.

Havana has not started since finishing second behind New Year’s Day in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He won the Grade  1 Champagne in his previous start. Havana did not have the best of luck at the draw and will break from the rail under John Velazquez.

[Swale Stakes: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live]

No Nay Never was perfect in three starts at 2, his last two victories coming in Europe. No Nay Never, who will race on dirt for the first time in the Swale, drew post 3 and will be ridden for the first time by Javier Castellano.

Coolmore is the owner of Havana and also owns No Nay Never in partnership, but the two will be uncoupled in the wagering.

The remainder of the Swale lineup, in post-position order, includes Can’t Stop the Kid (Luis Saez), Prudhoe Bay (Paco Lopez), Spot (Jose Lezcano), Brothersofthetime (Jesus Rios), and Breitling Flyer (Luis Conteras).

Trainer Donna Green is confident her improving Can’t Stop the Kid will run another big race on Saturday despite going up against the likes of Havana and No Nay Never. Can’t Stop the Kid has proven to be a versatile sort and is coming off an impressive entry-level optional claiming win here in his most recent start.

“He’s a very powerful horse but he was very green in his first few races and I think it cost him a couple of wins last summer at Saratoga,” said Green. “But he seems to be improving as he’s gotten stronger mentally, and if Luis can get him to relax I think we have a good chance of hitting the board even though there are some very talented horses, like Havana, in this field.”

Always a bridesmaid

Judy the Beauty has been frustrated time and time again in her quest to become a Grade 1 winner. The Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint runner-up is about ready to resume that quest and launch her 2014 campaign following a series of solid local works culminating with a sizzling five-furlong drill in 57.60 seconds in company with a pair of mates from trainer Wesley Ward’s barn on Sunday.

Aside from finishing a game second, a half-length behind defending race winner and two-time Eclipse Award champion Groupie Doll in the Filly and Mare Sprint, Judy the Beauty also finished second in the Grade 1 Spinaway at 2, the Grade 1 Prioress at 3, and the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap last summer at Calder.

“I’ve nominated her for the Las Flores at Santa Anita on March 9,” trainer Wesley Ward said on Wednesday. “I just want to get a race into her before Keeneland. She loves the track there and right now the primary target is the [Grade 1] Madison [on April 12]. Getting her that elusive Grade 1 win is our primary goal at the moment.”