Ever So Lucky and Motor City established themselves as three-year-olds to watch at Churchill Downs last fall and both will launch their highly-anticipated sophomore campaigns Saturday in the Grade 3, $150,000 Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park. A total of 10 runners are entered, but the seven-furlong test will be lacking Thunder Moccasin, a good-looking winner of the Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes on February 11.
Ever So Lucky was scratched from the Hutcheson and the speedy colt nearly missed this assignment due to a bruised foot. But he signaled his readiness with a sharp workout last Saturday, turning five furlongs in a bullet :58 4/5, and will attract plenty of mutuel support in the Swale. The Jonathon Sheppard trainee dominated maiden special weight rivals in his lone appearance sprinting, winning his career bow last November, and Ever So Lucky will make his first appearance since a good second behind Gemologist in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at 1 1/16 miles.
The bay son of Indian Charlie will pick up the services of Joe Bravo while cutting back in distance Saturday.
Motor City ended last year on a strong note, posting his first stakes victory with a rallying score in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes, and will remain at a one-turn distance. Out of a mare by Belmont Stakes winner Danzig Connection, Motor City is a son of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense and should relish longer distances with his pedigree, but the bay gelding has never run a bad one at a one-turn distance, recording his lone unplaced finish when trying two turns in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity on Keeneland's Polytrack. The Ian Wilkes pupil will look to make a late impact Saturday beneath new rider Joe Bravo.
Trinniberg, runner-up in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes and Grade 2 Nashua Stakes, will also open his three-year-old season in the Swale. The Bisnath Parboo-trained colt was last seen recording a disappointing seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint. The Dale Romans-trained Quick Wit, a three-length maiden scorer two starts back, merits respect following his third in the Hutcheson
Musical Flair is a two-time stakes winner in turf sprints, winning the February 4 Needles at Gulfstream two back, but trailed in the Turf Dash at Tampa Bay most recently. Hello Prince is a sprint stakes winner at Calder and finished second in the Needles last out before being disqualified and placed sixth. Good Morning Diva and Bahamian Squall will step up to face winners following commendable maiden wins over the track, and longshots Silver Menace and Seve round out the line-up.