09/09/2004 11:00PM

Stakes winners change luck


MIAMI - Marina de Chavon and Swift Replica, a couple of stakes winners in 2003 who had been unable to find the winner's circle this season, turned things around in back-to-back victories Thursday at Calder.

Both Marina de Chavon and Swift Replica came into Thursday's program winless in four previous starts this year. Marina de Chavon's last tally had come via a disqualification in the Brave Raj Stakes on Sept. 20, 2003. Swift Replica's shutout streak was even longer. His last win came in the the Linear Stakes over the local turf course in June 2003.

Marina de Chavon was turned over to trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. after beginning her 3-year-old campaign with disappointing performances in Gulfstream Park's Grade 2 Davona Dale and Grade 2 Bonnie Miss. She was a beaten favorite in each of her next two tries, both sprints, before stretching out around two turns on Thursday and outfinishing older rivals Shady Woman and Awesome Powers in a second-level allowance.

Swift Replica was even more impressive, withstanding an early pace battle and drawing off to a convincing two-length victory over 2-1 favorite Nightmare Affair in the seven-furlong Sea Emperor Stakes. Although winless for more than 15 months, Swift Replica had turned in some solid efforts during that period, including a near-miss to course-record holder Whenthedoveflies in the Calder Turf Sprint Handicap on July 10.

Swift Replica, a 5-year-old son of Struggler, is trained by co-owner Mario Zacco.

Puck comes back after two years

The Sea Emperor also marked the return of Puck, a Grade 3 stakes winner who had not started since finishing fourth to War Emblem in the 2002 Haskell Invitational.

Puck is owned by Stephanie and Art Preston's Oxbow Racing LLC. He came out of the Haskell with a hairline fracture in his right pastern, an injury that took far longer to heal than originally expected.

"He was supposed to take two to four months to heal, and instead it took us two years to finally get him back to the races," said trainer Bill White. "The fracture wasn't supposed to be a big issue, but unfortunately just didn't heal quickly or properly.

"I saw him a couple of times while he was recuperating, once in Texas and again later in Kentucky, and to tell the truth I'm as surprised as anyone he has come back. The Prestons deserve all the credit. They never gave up."

Before the Sea Emperor, White said he felt it was unrealistic to expect Puck to win off the two-year layoff. Unfortunately, Puck never even had a chance - he broke poorly, then took up after rushing into traffic approaching the far turn. He finished ninth and last, nearly 18 lengths behind Swift Replica.

* Whenthedoveflies, who scratched out of the Golden Or Stakes on Aug. 29 and has not started since winning the Calder Turf Sprint two months ago, breezed three furlongs in 37 seconds Friday. She could make her next start in Saturday's $75,000 U Can Do It Handicap.

* Caballero Negro, one of the top 3-year-olds on the grounds, worked a bit harder on Friday morning, breezing a mile in 1:44.40. Caballero Negro is coming off an easy victory over Nightmare Affair in the seven-furlong Silver Season Stakes on Aug. 7.