Switzerland took his record for the Steve Asmussen barn to three-for-three by scoring his first black-type victory in the Maryland Sprint. The bay dueled Red Dragon Tattoo (Bellamy Road) through an opening quarter in :22.94 over a foggy and rain-soaked Pimlico main track. Taking control through a half in :45.69, the $500,000 EASMAY buy charged clear under a hand ride from Ricardo Santana, Jr., to score. It was the third stakes win of the day for Asmussen and Santana, who captured the James W. Murphy S. with Tap Daddy (Scat Daddy) and the Chick Lang S. with Mitole (Eskendereya).
“He came into the barn a fast horse, and we’ve been able to maintain that,” Asmussen said. “I think the key to today’s race was him being able to get away with going :22 4/5 the first quarter. I was surprised, the way the day’s played, that he was able to do that in the first quarter. You felt good. You say, ‘I like my chances from here,’ and he came home beautifully.”
The Hall of Famer continued, “We were excited about this opportunity. I think with a win in a race like this, we will regroup and see what’s out there for older sprint horses and take a big swing.”
Never worse than fourth in his first seven attempts, Switzerland broke through at eighth asking in the slop at Aqueduct Feb. 16 for previous trainer Chad Brown. Transferred to Asmussen, he scored decisive victories in a pair of Oaklawn optional claimers Mar. 30 and Apr. 14, respectively.
Switzerland is the 91st black-type winner and 41st graded stakes winner for WinStar’s Speightstown. The winner’s MSW & MGSP dam Czechers is also responsible for the 3-year-old colt Jewangui Huye (More Than Ready); a juvenile filly by Will Take Charge; a yearling colt by Street Sense and a Union Rags filly born Apr. 7 of this year.