08/16/2008 12:00AM

Swift Temper keys Lebron stakes sweep


HENDERSON, Ky. - Swift Temper won for the first time in more than 18 months when prevailing under red-hot Victor Lebron as the longest shot in the field Saturday in the only graded race of the Ellis Park meet, the Grade 3 Gardenia Handicap.

Always close to the pace, Swift Temper glided away from the pack at the quarter pole and was never threatened, winning by 4 1/2 lengths over Marquee Delivery. The victory gave Lebron a sweep of the three Saturday stakes at Ellis and five overall victories on a 12-race Saturday card.

“I'm just giving all my horses the best trip I can,” said Lebron, the runaway leader atop the Ellis standings.

Swift Temper, owned by Lexington, Ky., businessman Mark Stanley and trained by Dale Romans, returned $44.60 after finishing one mile in 1:37.55 over a fast track.

Marquee Delivery overcame traffic trouble under John McKee to finish another 3 1/2 lengths clear of Unforgotten, while Fancy Fusaichi, the 4-5 favorite, labored home fourth in a field of six fillies and mares.

Swift Temper, a 4-year-old filly by Giant's Causeway, had not won since taking an entry-level allowance race at the Fair Grounds on Feb. 3, 2007. She had gone winless in 10 subsequent starts, albeit mostly against tougher company. With her third win from 19 career starts, she earned $90,000 from the $150,000 total purse.

Windyindy, with Calvin Borel named to ride, was an early scratch because of a slightly wrenched ankle. “She's going to be fine, and we actually jogged her this morning,” said trainer Carl Nafzger. “But it was the kind of thing I couldn't ask her to come here and lay it all on the line.”

Estimated attendance amid unusually mild summer weather was 5,000.

In earlier Saturday races:

* Colonel Rutledge ($5) surged past Ready Racer in deep stretch to post a three-quarter-length victory in the $50,000 James C. Ellis Juvenile for 2-year-olds. Ken McPeek trains Colonel Rutledge for breeder-owner Herman Greenberg of Rutledge Farm.

Ready Racer, part of a Stonerside Farm entry favored at 2-5, drew clear from his entrymate Citizen in midstretch, but was unable to withstand a late run by the winner.

“I had a perfect trip from beginning to end,” said Lebron.

Colonel Rutledge, now 2 for 2, finished seven furlongs in 1:23.92.

Only four betting interests were available in the Ellis Juvenile after Voodoo Doctor was an early scratch.

* Lebron also won the Anna M. Fisher Debutante in very similar fashion when Partners Star ($3.40) tracked two front-runners before hitting the front about 70 yards before the wire. Partners Star, claimed two starts back by trainer Mike Maker for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, finished seven furlongs in 1:25.11. The field was reduced to six 2-year-old fillies following two scratches.

* Jockey Tommy Pompell escaped injury when he was thrown from his mount, Bucks Gamble, in the first race.