Updated on 09/15/2011 12:35PM

Swaps-ready Congaree puts in top work

Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos
Congaree put in his final drill for Sunday's $500,000 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park by working six furlongs in 1:11 Tuesday morning at Santa Anita.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Congaree, who was given a breather after finishing third in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, benefited from his vacation. He is fresh, fit, and dangerous, and ready to return in Sunday's $500,000 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park after working six furlongs Tuesday morning at Santa Anita in 1:11 with exercise rider Dana Barnes. It was the best work of 14 at the distance.

"He was awesome. He worked beautiful," said his trainer, Bob Baffert. "He's ready to roll."

Congaree was worn out following the Preakness, which was won by the Baffert-trained Point Given. Rather than push Congaree for the Belmont, Baffert elected to get off the Triple Crown trail, and point for a summer comeback. Congaree also should appreciate a return to 1 1/8 miles, the same distance as the Wood Memorial, which he won in April.

"I had to back off on him. He was getting really light on me," Baffert said. "He's a very, very good horse."

Congaree, who will be ridden by Gary Stevens, figures to be a heavy favorite against perhaps six rivals in the Grade 1 Swaps. Among his potential challengers is Bayou the Moon, who worked an easy five furlongs in 1:03.60 Tuesday morning at Hollywood Park.

"He went a slow five-eighths. Actually too slow. I warned my rider, and he listened too good," said Richard Mandella, the trainer of Bayou the Moon.

The Swaps remains his first choice for Bayou the Moon's next start, but Mandella said he is still mulling over whether to put the colt on turf next Wednesday in Del Mar's opening-day Oceanside Stakes, or even wait for the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on Aug. 5. Mandella won last year's Haskell with Dixie Union.

Baffert to stewards: You're a joke

Baffert, who is feuding with the local stewards and the California Horse Racing Board over a 60-day suspension for a medication violation, lashed out at the stewards for the disqualification of his horse Spicy Stuff in Sunday's eighth race at Hollywood.

"The stewards at Hollywood Park have become a joke," Baffert said. "If they think that for a trace of morphine I should get 60 days, then they should get 90 days for calls like that. They should not be above scrutiny. If they make bad, ridiculous calls, they should be relieved. They're letting their personal bias get in the way. The call on Spicy Stuff was the most ridiculous DQ."

Baffert said he believed the stewards were inconsistent in ruling on disqualifications. He cited as an example the Hollywood Gold Cup, in which Futural was moved from first to third.

Said Baffert: "There's no question that Captain Steve," whom Baffert trains, "was knocked off stride. He was part of the chain reaction. But they didn't put Futural behind Captain Steve. They didn't even blink Captain Steve's light during the inquiry, like they never even considered him. Where's the consistency?"

One more at Hollywood

With Del Mar's first condition book out, a number of trainers are keeping their horses out of races during the final week at Hollywood to point for similar spots, with larger purses, at Del Mar.

Ron Ellis had hoped to run Dyna's Club going two turns on turf the first part of Del Mar, but when a race that suits her was not in the book, he called an audible and decided to run her in a 5 1/2-furlong classified allowance race on the turf on Thursday at Hollywood. Her participation helped make the race go, since there are only five runners.

"This sure wasn't the race I was pointing for," Ellis said. "I wanted to run her at Del Mar the first part of the meet, but since they have a Grade 1 stakes the first weekend, the Ramona, there's no two-turn classified race in the first condition book." Ellis said Dyna's Club likely would go back around two turns in a stakes race later in the meet at Del Mar.

* Del Mar's stable area opened early Tuesday morning, and the first horses through the gates were those trained by Tom Blincoe. They arrived at 4:30 a.m. Closely following were shipments of horses for trainers Lou Carno, Mike Mitchell, Clifford Sise, and Don Warren. Del Mar's main track is scheduled to open for training on Thursday, six days before the meet's opening day July 18.

* General Challenge has a strain in his left front leg, Baffert said, and will be out another four months. He strained his right front leg in last year's Pacific Classic, and was nearing a comeback when he was injured in the opposite front leg.