SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. >> Swansea Mile had been something of a puzzle for trainer Richard Hendriks since coming over from Ireland last summer. The 7-year-old gelding ran credibly in the Grade 1 Lonesome Glory in his first U.S. start, but has been inconsistent since, alternating solid performances with not-so-solid ones. Going into Thursday’s $150,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial Stakes, Swansea Mile had won just 3 of 22 starts over jumps.
In the Smithwick, Swansea Mile — despite being dismissed by bettors at 28-1 — put all the pieces together. Tracking the pace in mid-pack for much of the way, the Irish-bred gradually ran himself into contention on the fourth and final turn. Racing wide he made the front at the top of the stretch, turning back a bid from favored Modem to triumph by 2½ lengths over a course rated “good.”
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been here in a Grade 1 in this winner’s circle, so it feels good,” said Hendriks, who conditions Swansea Mile for Rosbrian Farm. “He was eligible for some other races, but I have to give credit to the owners. We took a shot and got in with a light weight, and he ran a great race. Mikey [Mitchell] gave him a wonderful ride. He’s a great horse, and we’re lucky to have him.”
Diplomat, Portrade, Balance the Budget, Charminster, Schoodic and Andi’amu completed the order of finish. Simenon and All the Way Jose did not finish. Morning-line favorite Mr. Hot Stuff, the 2013 Smithwick winner — and a full brother to 2009 Travers winner Colonel John — was a trainer scratch.
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