Chief's Crown, last year's 2-year-old champion, made his first start as a 3-year-old in impressive fashion Saturday at Gulfstream Park, winning the $50,000 Swale Stakes by 3 lengths.
There were only two other stakes winners--Creme Fraiche, who finished second, and Cherokee Fast, who was third--in the nine-horse field, but trainer Roger Laurin still was satisfied with Chief's Crown's first test since he won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Stakes Nov. 10 at Hollywood Park.
Asked if he was pleased, Laurin said: "What else could you ask him to do, play 'Dixie' down the stretch?"
Laurin said he had no immediate plans for Chief's Crown, but the Flamingo Stakes at Hialeah on March 30 is a possibility. The Flamingo could match up Chief's Crown and Proud Truth, who won the Florida Derby here 40 minutes after Chief's Crown won Saturday.
Ridden by Don MacBeth, Chief's Crown covered seven furlongs in 1:22 2/5, which was 1 3/5 seconds off the track record.
Chief's Crown had missed about three weeks of training early this year because of a cough. "With this race, he's right back where I want him to be," Laurin said. "There were rumors that there was something wrong with him, but he's never taken a bad step. The horse had seven workouts in 28 days; it would have been impossible for him to have something wrong with him and work like that."