3YO pair to meet in 2012 debuts

Updated: March 15, 2012, 12:12 PM ET
By Mike Welsch | Daily Racing Form



HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- Gemologist and Currency Swap, two of the more highly regarded members of the 2-year-old class of 2011, will make their belated 3-year-old debuts against one another in Friday's $80,000 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park. The main event, which could ultimately serve as a Kentucky Derby prep for one or both horses, drew a field of only five 3-year-olds and will be decided at one mile.

Gemologist and Currency Swap were both perfect at 2. Gemologist, a son of Tiznow owned by WinStar Farm, won all three of his starts as a juvenile, including the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. Currency Swap capped off his brief but successful season with a three-quarter-length victory over Trinniberg in the Grade 1 Hopeful.

Gemologist's last two victories, including the Kentucky Jockey Club, were both at a 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs. He is following the same path as WinStar's 2010 Kentucky Derby winner, Super Saver, who also returned to the farm after closing out his 2-year-old campaign with a victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club. Super Saver had two preps before winning the Derby, the first of which came in mid-March in the Tampa Bay Derby, and trainer Todd Pletcher has Gemologist on a similarly timed schedule.

"The idea all along was to give him a break at WinStar and two preps for the Derby, with the original plan being to go to the Rebel," said Pletcher. "But then," said the trainer, he noticed that Gulfstream's racing secretary, Dan Bork "had put up a two-other-than extra last week, and I told him Gemologist wasn't eligible for that condition, but if he opened the race up it might be an option for us. The ship to Oaklawn was also becoming more complicated than we wanted, so in the end we decided to stay here and run in the allowance race, although by doing so it does put ourselves in a position graded-earnings-wise where it will be critical for him to perform well in the next one."

Gemologist picked up a little over $103,000 in graded earnings for his victory in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club.

Pletcher said Gemologist has trained extremely well for his return.

"He's fit enough to do what we're asking him to do on Friday, and he should improve for having run this race as well."

Currency Swap had his 3-year-old return delayed while he recuperated from surgery to remove an ankle chip that prematurely ended his 2-year-old season after the Hopeful. A son of High Cotton owned by Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence, Currency Swap has been prepared for his return at Gulfstream Park, where he worked a bullet six furlongs in 1:11.45 under regular rider Rajiv Maragh on Saturday.

"It looks like a two-horse race," said trainer Terri Pompay. "Gemologist is a tough horse, and we're a tough horse and he's coming off a layoff too. I think my horse is fit enough coming off the break. He galloped out very strong at the end of his work the other day, although we don't want to overdo it the first time back either. I'm looking for a good race without taking too much out of him. I think he'll like the distance, and naturally we're hoping to be pointing him for longer races down the road."

Pompay said she was also happy to see Trinniberg return with a powerful performance here last weekend winning the Grade 3 Swale in his 3-year-old debut.

"I think the way Trinniberg ran the other day was very flattering to us," said Pompay. "Right now we have nothing picked out for his next start. We have him nominated for almost everything we can think of. I'm just excited to finally get him going again."