Swaps | Horse Profile

Horse > Swaps


Swaps was affectionately known under two nicknames. His blazing speed and sheer talent earned him the moniker “California Comet” early in his career, but a series of unfortunate injuries also led to him being known as the “California Cripple”.

Trained by Mesh Tenney, a Hall of Famer himself, the California-bred raced six times as a juvenile in 1954, winning three.

The son of Khaled then announced himself on the national stage as a 3-year-old. He won the San Vicente Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby before heading east, winning a Derby lead-up before holding out the favorite Nashua in the Kentucky Derby.

Heading back west rather than pursue the Triple Crown, Swaps won three races before returning east to win the American Derby. His final race of the year was a Washington Park match race against Nashua, who had since won the Preakness and Belmont; Nashua won by 6-1/2 lengths, earning the Horse of the Year title, over an injured Swaps.

Swaps returned from injury in 1956 with two wins. After a second-place finish in the Californian Stakes, Swaps won five in a row, including a second Hollywood Gold Cup and the Sunset Handicap. Swaps then finished fifth before wrapping up his sensational career with a one-mile victory in the 1956 Washington Park Handicap. This year, it was enough to be named Horse of the Year.

Following this race, Swaps suffered a leg fracture that would only get worse after he bumped the leg while it was in a cast. He lived in a sling for the better part of a month. During the rehab, Swaps lost 300 pounds but survived.

Swaps won 19 of his 25 starts, earning $848,900, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966. He stood at Darby Dan Farm in Kentucky before spending his last five years at Spendthrift Farm. He fathered 35 stakes winners, including 1963 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Chateaugay.