Uptown Swell tied a 16-year-old Pimlico turf course record today to win the $117,300 Dixie Handicap by a length over Southern Sultan.
The 9-to-5 favorite, Uptown Swell drew abreast of long shots Carlypha and Southern Sultan just inside the quarter-mile pole and briefly led by two lengths under Walter Guerra, before Southern Sultan closed the gap.
Southern Sultan's jockey, Nick Santagata, claimed a foul against Guerra for interference just before the finish line, but it was not allowed. Carlypha finished third.
Uptown Swell was clocked in 2:27 2/5 over a firm, dry course, equaling the mark set by Fort Marcy. He earned $92,445 (including a Breeders' Cup premium) for owner Virginia Payson.
The crowd of 13,201 backed Uptown Swell strongly even after his latest fifth-place finish as the favorite in Keeneland's Elkhorn Stakes. Today, trainer Richard Lundy equipped him with blinkers for the first time and the colt also benefited from Guerra's patient ride.
As the 13-horse field made its first run past the clubhouse, Guerra had Uptown Swell in ninth, about eight lengths behind front-running Carlypha, who was being pressured by Castelets and Southern Sultan.
Uptown Swell advanced gradually and, with a half-mile remaining, accelerated into fourth outside Castelets. When Carlypha (on the rail) and Southern Sultan took their neck-and-neck duel around the final turn, Uptown Swell rallied outside to join them, then left them behind.
"I tried to wait as long as I could," Guerra said. He'll receive $9,245 for being punctual.