10/09/2009 11:00PM

Question of surface for Swift Temper


LEXINGTON, Ky. - It has been more than three years since Swift Temper raced on a synthetic surface. On Sept. 9, 2006, making the second start of her career, she ran eighth, beaten nearly 23 lengths, in a maiden race at Turfway Park.

Little could anyone have known then that Swift Temper would go on to become a multiple graded winner of nearly $1.3 million for owner Mark Stanley and trainer Dale Romans. But here she is, one more good race away from the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita, the lukewarm morning-line favorite for what long has been recognized as the most prestigious race of the Keeneland fall meet, the Grade 1 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes on Sunday.

"Obviously she was a different horse way back then," said Romans. "That one race on Polytrack is irrelevant. She's never been in any better form, so obviously the move to the Poly is the big unknown."

Indeed it is. With the 1 1/8-mile Spinster being run over Polytrack, perhaps the most pressing issue for Keeneland horseplayers is whether Swift Temper will be able to duplicate the kind of effort that took her to recent victories in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap and Grade 1 Ruffian Handicap. Romans admits to being nearly as baffled as anyone sifting through the past performances of the 11 fillies and mares who make up a competitive field for the $500,000 Spinster.

"I know that I want to take her to California for the Breeders' Cup," he said. "Like with any other horse, you don't want to go when you feel they're not competitive. So I imagine she'll have to run well Sunday for us to move ahead."

Alan Garcia rode Swift Temper, a 5-year-old Giant's Causeway mare, in her last three races but had more pressing commitments in New York, giving Robby Albarado the mount.

Swift Temper and Albarado will start from post 8 and are drawn just inside of two would-be conquerors in the Spinster, a Win and You're In event toward the Nov. 6 Ladies' Classic.

Those formidable challengers are Indescribable (post 10) and Mushka (post 11), an uncoupled duo from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. Indescribable looks extremely live wheeling back 15 days after coming alive on the Polytrack surface at Turfway Park, where she easily won the Sept. 26 Kentucky Cup Distaff following three subpar efforts on grass. Mott attributed the recent wakeup partly to the return to synthetics, over which the mare has earned well more than half of her $474,492 bankroll.

Mushka also enters off a big effort, having notched the Grade 3 Glens Falls on closing day at Saratoga. In her lone synthetics effort, the 4-year-old Mushka was particularly sharp in taking a third-level allowance here last spring.

Julien Leparoux has the mount on Indescribable, while Kent Desormeaux will be on Mushka.

Surely the unknown danger in this 54th running of the Spinster is Proviso (post 4), a filly bred and owned by the race sponsor, Juddmonte. The British-bred filly, now under the care of Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, will be treated with the bleeder medication Lasix when she makes her North American debut after earning just more than $500,000 overseas for trainer Andre Fabre. Rajiv Maragh has the mount.

Ginger Brew (post 7), with John Velazquez riding, also merits high respect as a multiple-stakes-winning filly for the Stronach Stables powerhouse.

Rounding out the Spinster field are Teamgeist, Tejida, Dawn After Dawn, Be Fair, Tizfiz, and Champagne Eyes.