CARTER H. | PURSE: $400,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 1 | 7 FURLONGS
Having chased returning rivals Discreet Dancer and Fort Loudon in a pair of recent stakes at Gulfstream Park, Silverton Hill's Swagger Jack earned a little payback Saturday in the Grade 1, $400,000 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct.
Proving the most capable closer in the ancient seven-furlong test, Swagger Jack sprung the 15-1 upset with a four-wide rally turning for home. Receiving a favorable setup when Consortium rattled off fractions of :22 and :44 3/5, Swagger Jack came from more than six lengths down to outkick even-money favorite Discreet Dancer, and then comfortably held off the belated bid of Sahara Sky to win by three-quarters of a length.
Swagger Jack paid $33.60, $9.90 and $3.70 after completing the distance in 1:21 2/5 on a fast track.
"I just tried to follow the instructions (trainer Marty Wolfson) told me," winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said. "Everything he told me happened in the race. He told me to break four, five lengths behind the speed and let the speed go. Maybe three horses had speed and I was sitting behind them. At the three-eighths pole, that horse loves to go, so that's what I did, and he started to pick them up pretty quick. It feels great."
Sahara Sky finished one length ahead of Discreet Dancer, who had a neck on Fort Loudon. Consortium and Brigand completed the order of finish, while Saturday's Charm was scratched.
Unplaced in four stakes attempts on turf and synthetic earlier in his career, Swagger Jack has kept primarily to dirt racing since his return from 15-month layoff last October. A three-time allowance winner in late 2012 and early 2013, Swagger Jack preceded this victory with runner-up finishes to Fort Loudon in the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship and to Discreet Dancer in the Gulfstream Park Handicap. His record now reads 16-5-3-0, $451,769.
Bred by the late Edward P. Evans in Virginia, Swagger Jack is a half-brother to Grade 2 winner Tap Dance and stakes winner Grand Prayer, the dam of Grade 1 vixen Malibu Prayer. All were produced by Lyrical Prayer, a daughter of The Minstrel.
Also hailing from this family are German highweight Silverside and Grade 3 winners Good Game, Global View, Lager, With Flair and Million Dollar Run.