06/27/2006 11:00PM

Swept Gold back after freshening


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It was a little more than a year ago that Swept Gold won her career debut with a flourish at Churchill Downs. Partly because of the way she won, and partly because of her pedigree, the filly's owners were exuberant about her future prospects.

Even after a series of minor setbacks, the Klein family is still exuding optimism about , who will make her return to action Friday at Churchill as part of a 10-horse field in the 10th-race feature. Swept Gold was the first foal of Swept Away, an exceptionally fast mare who won multiple graded stakes in 2000 and 2001 for the Kleins.

"We're really excited about getting her back," said Richard Klein, who, in tandem with his parents, Bert and Elaine, employs Steve Flint as his trainer.

Soon after her flashy bow last June 19, Swept Gold finished third in the Grade 3 Debutante Stakes, then third as the odds-on favorite in the Fisher Debutante at Ellis Park. She then finished second in an October allowance at Keeneland, and although she was supposed to run in the Pocahontas at Churchill in early November, she was scratched with just a few minutes to post.

Jockey Rafael Bejarano "said he noticed something a little off that day, so he had her scratched," recalled Klein. "The problem really was minimal, and we wanted to give her time off to mature anyway. After she got a little time off, she was trained up and down hills at Amy Lopresti's farm near Lexington. Steve has had her back at the track for about six weeks."

Julien Leparoux has been named on Swept Gold, but a replacement rider will have to be named. Leparoux's agent, Steve Bass, said Leparoux will catch a private plane following the third race Friday so that he can ride that night at Prairie Meadows in Iowa.

Besides Swept Gold, the $54,000 feature drew several other promising fillies, including and Dixie's Jubilee. Both come off easy debut wins as odds-on favorites at Mountaineer Park.

The 11-race Friday program, which begins at 2:45 p.m. Eastern, starts with an unusually strong race: a $54,000 turf allowance at 1 1/8 miles. One other $54,000 allowance, for 3-year-olds at 6 1/2 furlongs, is on tap as the fifth race.