09/18/2004 12:00AM

Senor Swinger strolls home a winner

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Senor Swinger, under Edgar Prado, cruises to a four-length victory in the Belmont Breeders' Cup.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Senor Swinger relished the softness of Belmont Park's inner turf course more than Stroll did, easily blowing past that rival in midstretch en route to a four-length victory in Saturday's Grade 2, $207,800 .

It was 3 1/2 lengths back to B.A. Way, who rallied past pacesetter Gulch Approval for third. New Jersey shipper Hotstufanthensome was scratched in the paddock for wearing illegal shoes.

Senor Swinger, a 4-year-old son of El Prado trained by Bob Baffert, won for the eighth time in 21 starts and increased his purse earnings to $795,368 for owners Bob and Beverly Lewis.

Under Edgar Prado, Senor Swinger raced in third position early, as Gulch Approval set modest fractions of 25.50 seconds, 50.15, and 1:15.30 for six furlongs. Stroll, meanwhile, stalked the pace under Cornelio Velasquez before moving to the front leaving the quarter pole.

Senor Swinger moved when Stroll did, and Senor Swinger inhaled the 3-5 favorite at the eighth pole. Senor Swinger covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.72 over the soft ground and returned $6.80 as the second choice.

"The key was getting him to relax the first part of the race," Prado said. "He relaxed beautiful behind a slow, comfortable pace. Everything combined together worked out beautiful for my horse.

"I knew he'd handle the soft going because he won [over it] in Kentucky," the jockey said. "I was just hoping Stroll didn't like it too much."

Stroll had shown an affinity for soft going as well, but was making his first start in three months. Trainer Bill Mott was disappointed that Stroll didn't put up more of a fight when Senor Swinger came to him.

"You'd rather have had a race in you, but that horse beat us pretty easily," Mott said. "It wasn't like it came right down to the wire. When that other horse punched in, he kind of ran right by us; our horse didn't really kick that well today."

Mott said Stroll might run back in the Kelso Breeders' Cup Handicap here on Oct. 9. Plans for Senor Swinger were undetermined.