Talented young sprinters will be in the spotlight when Gulfstream Park hosts the $200,000 Swale Stakes (gr. II) on February 3rd.
The seven-furlong race has attracted some of the best up-and-coming three-year-old sprinters on the East Coast, including #6 Strike Power, who opened his career with a sensational performance sprinting 5 ½ furlongs at Gulfstream Park. Lightly regarded that day at odds of 12-1, the Mark Hennig-trained colt went straight to the lead, set a fast pace, and drew off to win by eight lengths while earning a massive 103 BRIS speed figure. Anything resembling a repeat of that performance would make Strike Power difficult to beat in the Swale.
On the other hand, when a young horse earns a tremendous speed figure in its debut, handicappers can be rewarded for taking a conservative approach next time they run. Horses like this often regress in their second start, and while that’s not to say that Strike Power won’t win the Swale, his huge maiden win likely ensures that he’ll start at a short price, which means there won’t be much value in playing him to win.
Strike Power will also be facing several other talented colts in the Swale, including the more experienced #2 Tricks to Doo. The son of Into Mischief caught my eye in a big way when he won a six-furlong maiden race at Laurel Park by 5 ¾ lengths despite one of the reins breaking early in the race, requiring jockey Feargal Lynch to turn in a bold ride guiding Tricks to Doo with one rein and a grip on the colt’s mane. Despite this obstacle, Tricks to Doo recorded a fast time that earned a 91 BRIS speed figure, and he came back with an even better effort in the six-furlong Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, winning gate-to-wire by 7 ¼ lengths while earning a 98 BRIS speed figure.
Tricks to Doo strikes me as a very promising colt, and assuming he breaks well from post position two, he should be able to work out a nice trip tracking fellow front-runner #1 Diamond King through the early stages of the race. If Strike Power regresses off his debut, Tricks to Doo should be poised to take advantage.
My strategy will be to play an exacta with Tricks to Doo on top while adding a trifecta that keys Tricks to Doo and Strike Power in the top two spots, just in case the expected favorite delivers with another big run.
$6 exacta: 2 with 5,6 ($12)
$2 trifecta: 2,6 with 2,6 with 1,5 ($8)