04/30/2003 12:00AM

No Derby, so Senor Swinger tries turf

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Senor Swinger was bought privately by Bob and Beverly Lewis earlier this spring with the hope that he would develop into a Kentucky Derby starter.

They missed by one day. Senor Swinger is not running in the Derby, but makes his turf debut in Friday's $100,000 Crown Royal American Turf, one of five stakes on the program at Churchill Downs.

Run over 1 1/16 miles on turf, the Grade 3 Crown Royal has drawn 15 runners, but only 12 will start.

The likely favorite is White Cat, who won the Transylvania Stakes over a mile on turf at Keeneland on April 4. Trained by Kenneth McPeek, White Cat placed in two turf stakes at Gulfstream Park during the winter.

The Crown Royal field also includes Ontario, a stakes winner in Ireland last year; Californian, Rapid Proof, and Color Me Gone, the first three finishers from the Forerunner Stakes at Keeneland on April 17; and Foufa's Warrior, who was third in the Illinois Derby on April 5.

Senor Swinger finished fifth in the Wood Memorial in his first start for trainer Bob Baffert on April 12, losing by 9 1/4 lengths to Kentucky Derby favorite Empire Maker.

On April 22, Senor Swinger worked on turf at Churchill Downs, which helped to persuade Baffert to keep him on turf.

"He hasn't matured into himself," Baffert said. "I really loved the way he worked on the turf."

Senor Swinger will be well-supported because of his recent status as a Kentucky Derby hopeful and the presence of Baffert and jockey Pat Day. A closer, Senor Swinger will have plenty of pace to chase.

One colt likely to be close to the front is Remind, who won two turf races at Gulfstream before finishing fourth in the Transylvania. Sent off as the favorite, Remind was beaten 1 1/2 lengths after a poor start.

Ontario is a more difficult horse to assess. He was considered one of Aidan O'Brien's top 2-year-olds last year, winning 2 of 7 starts, including the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes over six furlongs in Ireland last year.

Bought privately over the winter, he finished seventh in a seven-furlong allowance race on dirt at Keeneland on April 12.

- Steve Andersen

Edgewood: Tangle way overdue

The big race on Friday for trainer Craig Dollase and owner Paul Reddam will be the Kentucky Oaks, in which they send out morning-line favorite Elloluv, but they have a terrific chance to make some spending money earlier in the day when their filly Tangle tries to get an overdue stakes victory in the $100,000 Edgewood.

Tangle is unlucky not to have a stakes victory already. Since arriving in the United States last fall after winning first time out in Ireland, she has finished second in three straight races, including the Miesque Stakes at Hollywood Park and, most recently, the Appalachian at Keeneland on April 18.

"I thought she ran a winning race last time," Dollase said Wednesday morning as he walked Tangle around his barn's shed row. "She came back good, so we decided to come back in two weeks. She has had some tough losses, but she's rounding into form."

Tangle should get an ideal trip in the one-mile turf race. She is drawn well, in post 2.

Golden Marlin, who has the outside post in the field of 10, finished fourth, nearly eight lengths behind Tangle, in the Appalachian. There is, however, reason to believe she can improve. Golden Marlin was making her first start on turf that day, and Keeneland's grass course is notoriously unkind to horses with her front-running style. She could stick around for a major piece this time.

Forest Shadows moves into a stakes race after winning twice on turf against lesser company.

- Jay Privman

Aegon: Morse has three-peat chance

There's something about the Aegon Turf Sprint that brings out the best in trainer Randy Morse.

In 2001, Morse finished one-two with Morluc and Testify. In 2002, he won the race with Testify and earned fourth- and fifth-place checks with Mighty Beau and Morluc.

Friday, Morse will seek a three-peat with the same trio of Morluc, Testify, and Mighty Beau in the Grade 3, $100,000 Aegon, run at five furlongs.

Morluc, a 7-year-old son of Housebuster, has won 11 of 37 starts and banked $1,022,698 for M.C. Stable. The Aegon will be his first start since he finished second in the Grade 2 Firecracker Breeders' Cup Handicap last July 4. According to Morse, Morluc underwent surgery to replace a screw that was put in a back leg when he was a 3-year-old.

"He could've come back quicker, but there was nowhere to run him," Morse said. "We decided to point him toward this race. This is his track, he loves Churchill."

Morluc is 6 for 9 over Churchill's turf course. He will be coupled with Mighty Beau. Testify will run as a separate betting interest.

Testify was beaten a neck by No Jacket Required in the Grade 3 Shakertown on April 12 at Keeneland. Morse said Testify had a bad trip that day.

"He got away bad out of the 1-hole and was way back, the jock put him into a drive early, and he got hung wide," Morse said. "To get beat a neck, I would think that would be a pretty good excuse."

Mighty Beau finished seventh, but was beaten only 2 1/2 lengths in the Shakertown, his first start since Nov. 29.

Of his eight rivals, Morse said he fears Abderian the most. Abderian won his last three starts last year, including an allowance win over this course in which he earned a career-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure. He encountered traffic trouble when third in the Shakertown and now gets Jerry Bailey.

- David Grening