06/17/2001 11:00PM

Swaps calls on Monarchos, Point Given


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The purse for the Grade 1 Swaps Stakes on July 15 at Hollywood Park will be raised by $100,000, to $600,000 if Triple Crown stars Monarchos or Point Given start in the race.

At least one must start for the purse hike to go into effect. The promotion was announced Saturday by Hollywood Park and the Thoroughbred Owners of California, which controls purses at the state's Thoroughbred tracks.

The announcement comes three weeks after Hollywood Park was forced to cut overnight purses by 7 percent and reduce purses for six stakes because of slow business in the first half of the spring-summer meeting. The additional $100,000 for the Swaps purse increase would come in equal amounts from the purse pool and from the racetrack.

"In a different year, we might have been more aggressive," Hollywood Park president Rick Baedeker said. "We thought this was a reasonable amount and respectful to the owners and trainers who are supporting our program."

Point Given is the more likely of the two to start, considering he is based in Southern California with trainer Bob Baffert. Monarchos is trained on the East Coast by John Ward, who does not participate in California racing.

Baffert said Sunday that Point Given has returned to his base at Santa Anita.

He would not commit the winner of the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes to the Swaps, which is run over 1 1/8 miles on dirt.

Richard Mulhall, the racing manager for owner Ahmed Salman's The Thoroughbred Corp., said last week that he intended to discuss Point Given's summer campaign with Salman this week in England. Races such as the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Aug. 5 and the $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 25 are strong possibilities.

"We're looking at Grade 1's and money and it's not here," Mulhall said. "That doesn't mean we've closed the door on it."

Although the race is several weeks away, the Swaps is expected to include Congaree, Crafty C.T., Jamaican Rum, Millennium Wind, Top Hit, and Until Sundown.

David Hofmans trains Millennium Wind, who has not started since finishing 11th in the Kentucky Derby. Hofmans also trained Touch Gold, the winner of the 1997 Belmont Stakes. That year, Hollywood Park offered to increase the purse of the Swaps if Touch Gold, or Silver Charm, the 1997 Kentucky Derby winner, started. In the end, neither ran at Hollywood Park.

"People will go where the purses are best and there is prestige," Hofmans said. "Triple Crown horses need freshening and this comes at a time when they need rest. You can't run in them all."

Baedeker defended the purse increase and admitted the promotion could result in a backlash from rival horsemen who have seen their share of the prize money reduced.

"If we have a chance to get him, we have to do it," he said in reference to Point Given. "We felt we couldn't sit here and do nothing. The $100,000, compared to what they could make at the Haskell, is a drop in the bucket but for us it's significant.

"After the Triple Crown, Southern Californians didn't get to see Real Quiet, Silver Charm and Fusaichi Pegasus in their 3-year-old years. This may be a nudge to get the best horses in the country to race here."

Smith rides 4,000th winner

Mike Smith became the 40th jockey to win 4,000 races when Lift Off won Sunday's ninth race.

Smith, who relocated from the East Coast to California last month, commemorated the milestone by having his face pushed into a frozen cake by his fellow jockeys.

Twice a winner of the Eclipse Award as the nation's outstanding jockey, Smith rode two winners on Sunday, his best day since the move.

He also won the sixth race on Bella Drive and has five wins at the meeting.

"What's more important is I've been in five photos with little Tyler Baze and I finally beat him," Smith joked after Lift Off's win. "I was surprised the way the crowd cheered me on. It was kind of emotional. It makes me feel like things are starting to go my way."

Solis away on Hawaii vacation

Alex Solis, the leading rider at Hollywood Park through Sunday, is taking a walk on the beach this week.

Along with his wife and four children, who range in ages from 8 to 16, Solis left on Monday for a one-week vacation in Hawaii. He plans to return on June 27 and ride the final three weeks of the Hollywood Park meeting, which ends on July 16.

When he returns, the jockey standings may look different. Through Sunday, Solis had 47 winners, five more than Tyler Baze and eight more than Laffit Pincay Jr.

Solis is aware that Baze could catch him while he's gone, but said the family has been planning the vacation since the beginning of the year.

"My kids are getting older and I want to spend more time with them," he said. "When I come back, I think I will be refreshed and enjoy it more."

Godolphin's Sleeping Weapon wins

Sleeping Weapon gave Godolphin Racing its first 2-year-old winner of the year in the United States in Saturday's sixth race.

Ridden by Smith for Eoin Harty, Sleeping Weapon ($14.60) disputed the lead throughout the five furlongs and won by four lengths over Shingen Trick in 57.28 seconds. Distinction, who cost $4.2 million at the 2000 Saratoga Fasig-Tipton Yearling Sale, finished fifth of nine in his career debut.

Harty said the $100,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship on July 15 is Sleeping Weapon's next goal. A $700,000 purchase as a weanling, Sleeping Weapon was Harty's third starter since arriving from Dubai in late April.

"He's a tough, sound critter," Harty said. "Just looking at him, it's obvious that he's an early 2-year-old type."

Harty has 54 horses at Arlington Park, Hollywood Park, and Santa Anita. This is the second year he has directed a 2-year-old operation in the United States for Godolphin, which is operated by Sheikh Mohammed.