General Jim wins the Swale. (Coglianese)
G2 Fountain of Youth ‘Not Out of the Question’
David Joseph/Gulfstream Park
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.— Courtlandt Farms’ General Jim took a step forward in Saturday’s $125,000 Claiborne Farm Swale (G3) at Gulfstream Park, rallying in the stretch to pull off a mild upset victory over Super Chow.
The Swale, a seven-furlong sprint, was the first of five graded stakes for 3-year-olds on Saturday’s 12-race program headlined by the $250,000 Holy Bull (G3), the first graded-stakes stop on the road to the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1).
General Jim, who was coming off a fourth-place finish in the mile Mucho Macho Man after lacking room through the stretch run Jan. 1., turned in a thoroughly professional performance while wearing blinkers for the first time and cutting back in distance.
“A lot of times when you have plans and they work, it makes it fun, because a lot of times they don’t work,” Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said. “I thought he ran really good today from the inside and he ran down a pretty good horse. I was very pleased. We’ll see where this takes us.”
After breaking cleanly from the No. 1 post position under Luis Saez, General Jim settled in third along the backstretch as Super Chow, the 4-5 favorite ridden by Chantal Sutherland, opened up a clear lead. The Jorge Delgado-trained Super Chow, who was chasing his fourth straight stakes score and sixth victory in seven starts, set solid fractions of 22.69 and 45.31 seconds for the first half mile unchallenged on the lead. However, Saez sent General Jim around a tiring easy pace chaser Two of a Kind on the far turn and the 8-5 second choice loomed boldly on the turn into the stretch.
Super Chow, who hadn’t previously run father than 6 ½ furlongs, held the lead in mid-stretch but was unable to hold off General Jim, who scored by a length while completing seven furlongs in 1:23.34.
“Definitely the race came up perfect for him. We know we have plenty of speed. We just tried to break from there running and find a great spot. We have a pretty good trip and, man, when we came to the top of the stretch, I had a lot of horse and he just kept going,” Saez said. “I know Mr. Shug was saying he was going to put on the blinkers, and we’ve been working in the morning with the blinkers, and he was magnificent. Today the plan was to have a target in front and just wait to the end and let him run. He did it by himself, so it was pretty good.”
Super Chow finished 11 lengths ahead of Two of a Kind.
General Jim, who debuted with a third-place finish at Saratoga, graduated on turf at Saratoga three weeks later. The son of Into Mischief came right back to win an optional claiming allowance at Keeneland in his next start before finishing third in the Central Park stakes at Aqueduct on turf to cap his juvenile season.
His victory in the Swale was his first success on dirt.
McGaughey said the March 4 Fountain of Youth (G2) “is not out of the question.”
“He’s developing now. He’s grown and kind of filled out. He’s gained weight. He’s got a little bit more weight to go, so I’m going to let him do that,” McGaughey said.