06/29/2004 11:00PM

Swingforthefences takes his cut

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ALTOONA, Iowa - Swingforthefences will be looking to hit a home run when he seeks his first stakes victory in Friday's $250,000 Iowa Derby.

The 11-race program also includes the Grade 3, $125,000 Iowa Oaks. Friday is the second day of the four-day Iowa Festival of Racing, which features two stakes races per day worth a total of more than $1.1 million.

enters the 1 1/16-mile Iowa Derby off a rallying second May 22 in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park, beaten 6 3/4 lengths by Purge. That effort followed a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial in which Swingforthefences was beaten two lengths.

Trainer Rick Violette said Swingforthefences lost weight following the Peter Pan and he has given him a bit of extra time between starts.

"He wants to be a light horse anyway, and we needed to back off of him a little after the Peter Pan," said Violette.

Violette said he was please by a six-furlong work in 1:13.86 at Aqueduct last Friday.

"He galloped out a mile in 1:41 and wasn't blowing much after the work," Violette said. "He's fit. He needs to move up a notch to compete with the upper echelon of the division, and hopefully he will do that on Friday."

Violette said Swingforthefences could race next in the Haskell at Monmouth Park or the Travers at Saratoga.

Shaun Bridgmohan will be in from New York for a return call on Swingforthefences.

is a gate-to-wire threat in the derby for trainer Ken McPeek. In his last start, over a sloppy track on June 12, J Town set the pace to midstretch in the Grade 3 Northern Dancer at Churchill before settling for second, beaten three lengths by Suave. The 1 1/16-mile race was just the fourth of J Town's career and his first start around two turns.

Pat Day has a return call aboard J Town.

Courageous Act and Cryptograph are the only two stakes winners among the six 3-year-olds in the field. Courageous Act finished last of 12 in the Northern Dancer, but may not have cared for the wet surface. Before that, Courageous Act won the San Pedro at Santa Anita and finished second in the Grade 3 Derby Trial at Churchill.

Cryptograph's stakes win came in April at Lone Star in the Grand Prairie Turf Challenge, a race taken off the turf and run on the main track.