09/28/2005 11:00PM

Senor Swinger takes a shot on Polytrack

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The conventional wisdom about the new Polytrack surface at Turfway Park is that turf horses handle it as well as, or better than, dirt horses.

There have been many instances that justify this opinion since the Turfway fall meet began Sept. 7, but applying conventional wisdom to an isolated case is never a lead-pipe cinch. For example: Even if a bonafide grass specialist such as Senor Swinger is making his Polytrack debut against what would seem to be lesser company than he is accustomed to facing, does it mean you can absolutely, positively count on cashing that parimutuel ticket you just bought on him?

The answer will come on Saturday when Senor Swinger, with Brice Blanc riding, makes a rare shift from the turf to run in the Grade 3, $100,000 Turfway Park Fall Championship at the Florence, Ky., track.

Senor Swinger, an earner of nearly $900,000, is owned by Bob and Beverly Lewis and trained by Bob Baffert. He moved from Churchill Downs to Saratoga this summer and raced once, finishing fifth in the Fourstardave Handicap on Aug. 27.

Baffert then sent Senor Swinger, 5, to his former assistant John Good at Turfway. Senor Swinger breezed five furlongs there Sunday in 1:02.60, a work Good called "especially good."

Good said Baffert thought that Senor Swinger wouldn't be able to compete against the top grass horses in New York this fall.

"So he thought trying this new track would be a good alternative," Good said. "We've given him a little time to adjust over the track, and he's in the right frame of mind. He's a pro, and he loves to train.

"He really seems to like the footing, although, unfortunately with him, you never know for sure until he reaches the quarter pole in a race."

Eleven other older horses, plus one also-eligible, were entered in the one-mile Fall Championship, the eighth and final stakes of Turfway's 22-day fall meet. Among the other top contenders are Paging, already a winner over Polytrack, and Mighty Military, who has excelled on turf.

Blanc, like several other jockeys in action Saturday at Turfway, will head straight to Hoosier Park following the Fall Championship. Blanc has the mount on Don't Get Mad, one of the favorites in the $500,000 Indiana Derby there.

Hawthorne: Iosilver brings big Beyer

Having opened the fall meet last weekend with its showcase event, the Hawthorne Gold Cup, Hawthorne's schedule of major races quickly draws thin.

In fact, from last weekend until Nov. 12, Hawthorne will host just one program on which a stakes race will be carded. That will be Oct. 15, when the Hawthorne Derby and Hawthorne Oaks interrupt an otherwise lengthy stakes drought.

In the meantime, Hawthorne will be carding some solid racing. A 10-race Saturday card at the Stickney, Ill., track illustrates as much: three allowances (races 4, 7, 9), with purses totaling $100,000, are the top races on a program that begins at 1:10 p.m. Central.

The fourth race, worth $36,000, seems to have drawn the most accomplished group. Iosilver, whose last race resulted in a four-length triumph and 102 Beyer Speed Figure, looks like the one to beat in a field of six.

The seventh, a $34,000 turf route, drew a full field in which the Bobby Frankel-trained castoff Royal Gem seems to rate a big chance.

The $30,000 ninth race, an entry-level allowance, appears to be exceptionally well matched battle among 12 3-year-olds and up.