News & Barn notes

Dobles Expecting A Big Effort From Swan Lake In Saturday’s Jersey Derby; Stablemate Howgreatisnate Pointing to June 17 Pegasus Stakes

June 02, 2023

Trainer Elizabeth Dobles can’t explain exactly how or why Swan Lake has improved his Beyer Speed Figure numbers for seven straight races, topped by a career-best performance in his last start, but she’s confident the gelding still has more to give.

To that end, Dobles will make another trip to Monmouth Park on Saturday from her base at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida looking to take down a second stakes race this meet at the Jersey Shore.

After winning the Long Branch Stakes on May 13 with Howgreatisnate, Dobles will send out Swan Lake in Saturday’s $100,000 Jersey Derby at a mile on the grass. The 3-year-old son of Fort Loudon-Ballet Diva by Hear No Evil, comes in off a two-length victory in gate-to-wire fashion in the English Channel Stakes on May 6 at Gulfstream Park.

A field of 10, headed by the Shug McGaughey-trained Talk of the Nation, is entered for the 80th edition of the Jersey Derby.

“Every race, with the exception of the five-furlong stakes race (eight starts ago) has been better and better,” said Dobles. “I’m expecting this to be his next career-best race. He just gets better each race.”

The latest visit to New Jersey by Dobles won’t be her last if all goes according to plan. Howgreatisnate is being pointed to the Pegasus Stakes on Haskell Preview Day on June 17 with the ultimate goal being the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes on July 22.

“He’s doing well,” Dobles said of Howgreatisnate. “The plan is to run him at Monmouth Park on June 17. We’ll ship him up the Tuesday before the race with a string of horses.”

Swan Lake, who has a 6-3-1-1 line on the grass, was claimed by Dobles for $25,000 after his first start. Dobles and John Guarnere (Imaginary Stables) own the horse.

“I picked him out for myself and John. It was my idea to get him,” said Dobles. “I don’t usually go for maidens. I’m not a fan of maidens. It’s too risky. If they haven’t won once you don’t know if they are ever going to win. But I liked his breeding and the fact that he is a Florida-bred, which is important being based in South Florida.

“Both his sire and dam were really good dirt horses. I was expecting a stakes dirt horse. But after I claimed him I was scared to death. He ran a horrible race. He ran a quarter of a mile and then stopped like a parked car, which was really discouraging at first.”

When Dobles did get the horse she found he “had a little too much energy,” making the decision to geld him.

But it didn’t click that this could be a good turf horse until later.

“When we took him to the track the first time to breeze – I breezed him myself – he didn’t take to the dirt,” she said. “It was like he was running in quicksand. When we finally tried him on the grass (six starts ago) that was the difference.”

Overall, Swan Lake has banked $144,500 from his 10 career starts, with three wins, two seconds and a third. But $137,020 of those earnings have been from turf races.

“He’s a horse that takes the lead and as long as he has the lead everything is good,” she said.

Jairo Rendon, who rode Howgreatisnate, has the call on Swan Lake.