Updated on 09/08/2011 1:24PM

Saratoga: Currency Swap wears down Trinniberg in Hopeful

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Barbara D. Livingston
Currency Swap (left), with Rajiv Maragh up, outfinishes Trinniberg to win Monday's Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – In the ultimate local-girl-makes-good story, trainer Terri Pompay, a Saratoga native, won her first Grade 1 stakes Monday when Currency Swap wore down pacesetting longshot Trinniberg in the final strides to win the $250,000 Hopeful Stakes for 2-year-olds by three-quarters of a length.

It was 3 3/4 lengths back to Big Blue Nation in third. He was followed in the order of finish by Laurie’s Rocket, Power World, I’ll Have Another, Hunt Crossing, Vexor, and Clip the Coupons.

J C’s Pride, the 2-1 second choice, was pulled up at the three-eighths pole by jockey Jose Lezcano. The horse was vanned off and transported back to trainer Robert Barbara’s barn. Barbara said the horse was walking sound and there was nothing obviously wrong with the colt who had set a track record here for five furlongs in his last start.

“We don’t see anything right now, he’s walking around here fine,” Barbara said. “I have no clue.”

Conversely, Pompay had a clue that she had something special in Currency Swap even before the son of High Cotton won his debut here Aug 13 by six lengths, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 98. With that race under his belt, Pompay decided to point to the Hopeful.

Though Pompay was confident in her colt’s chances in the Hopeful, she was concerned about catching a sloppy track.

“I wanted to showcase him on a dry track, but he handled it fine,” Pompay said. “I was concerned a little.”

Currency Swap, fourth early, moved into second at the half-mile pole, after 68-1 shot Trinniberg, under Cornelio Velazquez, ran a quarter in 21.91 seconds. Trinniberg kept up the strong pace, running a half-mile in 45.14, but Currency Swap had moved within 1 1/2 lengths.

Turning into the stretch, it was clear this would be a two-horse race. At the eighth pole, Currency Swap drifted out a few paths before Maragh, using his right-handed whip, got the colt straightened out. He was able to wear Trinniberg down in the final 20 yards.

Currency Swap covered the seven furlongs in the slop in 1:26.16 and returned $5.80 as part of the favored entry along with Clip the Coupons.

“I fell into the spot that was pretty ideal for me, on the outside in the clear, where my horse is really happy,” Maragh said. “From there, I felt like he was going to give me a good finish, and he sure did.

“From the eighth pole home, you just belly down and try to get everything out of your horse,” Maragh added. “The other horse put up a really strong challenge. I wasn’t sure I was going to win it until after I passed the wire.”

Pompay, 50, grew up in Saratoga and began galloping horses when she was 16 years old. She has trained horses since 1995 and has been based primarily on the New Jersey and south Florida circuits. Her previous graded stakes victories came with Clearly a Queen, who won two graded events in 2002.

“I don’t even know how to describe it, I was so excited I thought I was going to pass out,” Pompay said. “This is my hometown. It’s been exciting and fun, because I knew I was bringing a good horse.”

Seth Klarman, who uses several trainers, said there was no “rhyme or reason” why Pompay got Currency  Swap, though he noted the horse “wasn’t the blueblood compared to some of them.” Klarman said this was his first Grade 1 victory since Subordination won the Eddie Read at Del Mar in 1998.

As part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge series, the Hopeful offers a fees-paid berth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and a $10,000 travel allowance, and both Klarman and Pompay said the that race at Churchill Downs in November is the goal. It is unclear whether he will start once before then.