Swayin to and Fro blows away the field by 6 1/2 lengths in the Willa on the Move under Grant Whitacre at Laurel Park Dec. 30, 2022. (Jerry Dzierwinski/MJC)
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
LAUREL, Md. – Baxter Racing Stable’s claimer-turned-multiple stakes winner Swayin to and Fro, riding a two-race win streak, looks to make it three stakes in a row in Saturday’s $100,000 What a Summer at Laurel Park.
Swayin to and Fro had seven wins, one third and $289,000 in purse earnings from 11 races since being claimed by trainer Mario Serey Jr. for $16,000 out of a maiden victory last May at historic Pimlico Race Course, her third career start.
The 4-year-old South Carolina-bred became a stakes winner in the restricted Shine Again against older horses last fall at Pimlico. Her two most recent efforts have been her best, winning the seven-furlong Safely Kept by 3 ½ lengths Nov. 26 and the 6 ½-furlong Willa On the Move, also over her elders, by 6 ½ lengths Dec. 30.
“I think she’s ready to go,” Serey said. “Every time when I work and gallop the filly, she makes me happier because she’s a really good talent. She’s grown up now. I think she’s going to be very tough again.”
Including her maiden triumph, Swayin to and Fro put together five consecutive wins last year before finishing fifth in the Seeking the Pearl at Colonial Downs in her stakes debut, one race before the Shine Again. She was off the board in two of her subsequent three starts prior to her current streak.
“She was a baby in the beginning but now she has grown up, so I put a little more pressure on her. Every time I put a little more pressure on her, she shows me more talent,” Serey said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she won easy again. I think she [was] the best 3-year-old filly in Maryland. She’s going to be really, really tough.”
Regular rider Grant Whitacre will be aboard from Post 4.
The competition for Swayin to and Fro includes fellow multiple stakes winners Disco Ebo, Fille d’Esprit and Dontletsweetfoolya. Cash is King and LC Racing’s Disco Ebo, 4, won the 2021 Shamrock Rose at Penn National and 2022 Youngstown Oaks at Mahoning Valley and exits a third in Aqueduct’s Dec. 10 Garland of Roses.
C J I Phoenix Group and No Guts No Glory Farm’s Fille d’Esprit is a 7-year-old Great Notion mare that had a two-stakes win streak snapped when fourth as the favorite behind Swayin to and Fro in the Willa On the Move. Fille d’Esprit owns 13 career wins, 11 at Laurel, and five stakes wins including a victory over Swayin to and Fro in the Seeking the Pearl.
Five Hellions Farm’s Dontletsweetfoolya set the pace in the Willa On the Move but settled for second in her second start since returning to the main track after winning one of six tries on the turf. The 6-year-old Stay Thirsty mare won an open six-furlong allowance Oct. 30 at Laurel, where six of her eight lifetime wins have come including the 2020 Primonetta and Willa On the Move to cap a five-race win streak.
Completing the field are a pair of New York shippers in Lady Sheila Stable’s Fouette, third in the Willa On the Move, and Highland Yard’s Snicket, fourth in the Garland of Roses and second in the Union Avenue against New York-breds last year.
The What a Summer honors the Maryland-bred mare that was named the Eclipse Award-winning sprinter and Maryland’s Horse of the Year in 1977. The Maryland-bred Hall of Famer won 18 of 31 career starts including the Fall Highweight Handicap (G2) and Silver Spoon Handicap twice, Maskette Handicap (G2) and Black-Eyed Susan (G2).