02/26/2014 3:24PM

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

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.”

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well it is a one man's opinion but if NNN wins the Swale by ten and the the Florida Derby by 7 then he will be supplimented for the KD, if he just wins by a neck this Saturday then he goes to Europe and who knows he may remain undefeated running races a mile or under till he is 4 then they stretch the magnificent stud.However, this is no ordinary horse.... He just just might bring the zing back to thoroubred racing.
Ann More than 1 year ago
Chief's Crown used the 3 March Swale as a prep for the March 30 Flamingo S 9f at Hialeah; as a colt with a proper 2yo campaign of 9 races, all he needed was a 'pipe-opener' to get him ready to go 9f. He finished his Derby prep with a win in the Blue Grass, 10 days before the Derby. All the horses you cited raced before the trainer 'coddling' era, when horses raced every 2 weeks or so. These days, a horse might have one race after the Swale, hardly enough to get it ready for the toughest race of its life.
jttf More than 1 year ago
ann, you are one of the few that understands the effects of dehydrating horses before they race. easy goer won the gotham on april 8th. the gotham is being run this weekend on march 1st (38 days earlier). easy goer then won the wood memorial on april 22. this year's wood memorial is being run on april 5th (17 days). the racing secretaries have completely changed the schedules do to lasix use.
jaybern1 More than 1 year ago
Havana is a nice horse. No Nay Never will be an all-time great horse.
jttf More than 1 year ago
lasix use has basically eliminated the swale stakes' importance. extended recovery time for lasix users eliminates a third derby prep race.
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
Isn't the race a "0" points race ?
nicola c More than 1 year ago
I really really like no nay never he was very impressive at ascot and in France one of my fave U.S horses if he is as good on dirt as the turf he will win and easily so Wesley ward says he is the most talented he has ever had, so ill be hoping he wins.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Havana .
Mark More than 1 year ago
jaybern1 More than 1 year ago
Senor Enrico More than 1 year ago
Wesley Ward prepares horses to win early. He takes advantage of having of having 2YO's in top shape early. The competition does catch up. Don't get fooled by No Nay Never's early form. Chances are that is as fast as he can run and that will not be good enough in the Swale. Big bet against for me!
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Agree, I would let him beat me, I never bet horses first time on the dirt. Just my thing
jaybern1 More than 1 year ago
Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds...and it makes for lots of losing tickets.
jaybern1 More than 1 year ago
Wesley Ward said he thinks the dirt is No Nay Never's "preferred surface." If that's true, then he will win the Swale by at least 5 lengths. He has a chance to be the American Frankel.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
No Nay will gallop...
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Big and powerful. He's a fine looking horse.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Watch Anchor Down in allowance. He is my second choice from Pletcher behind Constitution. Walk by them every day in barn 12 @ PM.
m More than 1 year ago
Almighty Chad has spoken...he must be right. Pretty sure he loved Trinniberg last year at Meydan
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Sure did love him at the Breeders Cup. One of my favorite Horses ever.