When Alan Swift's friends and family learned he'd bought his first Thoroughbred racehorse, one of their earliest questions was: “Will he run in the Kentucky Derby?”
Eight months later, Swift watched his colt As Seen On TV in an intense stretch battle in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park, and felt his own Derby dreams start to take shape.
“He has such heart and is so game,” said Swift. “That was unbelievable. When I was thanking my friends and family for coming to the race with me, I told them it might be one of the greatest races they'll ever see in person.”
Though As Seen On TV wound up second by a head in his first start around two turns, the 3-year-old's gritty performance earned him a shot in a Kentucky Derby points race down the road. The son of Lookin at Lucky also has a pedigree that suggests he won't mind extra distance, and he's already proven his capacity for speed with a 6 1/2-furlong stakes win in at Gulfstream Park West.
Swift is enjoying the thrilling feeling of potential, and while he's been careful to keep his expectations under wraps with his first venture into the industry, he can't help but be excited about the future.
A self-described “numbers man,” Swift recalled occasional trips to the racetrack throughout his childhood as fascinating experiences to look at statistics and probabilities at work. As he grew a little older, the excitement and allure of the sport began to draw him in even more.
“As you're at the track studying the form, you really start to think you know what you're doing for about 20 minutes,” Swift said. “Then in the next two minutes you realize you really don't!”
A long-time sales and marketing professional, Swift and his brother Phil incorporated Swift Response in 2011. The company produces and sells Flex Seal products and has become famous for its infomercials.
One of the most iconic moments in those infomercials is when Phil Swift, the spokesman, replaces the bottom of a boat with a screen door. He then paints that screen door with Flex Seal and paddles the boat out on the water.
An ode to the commercial, Alan Swift named his racing stable Screen Door Stables. As Seen On TV's name is also a reference to Flex Seal, and his other Thoroughbred, a filly, is named Testimonial.
“I've only got about 15 names left,” Swift joked. “My wife and I love the number 11, and Testimonial is 11 letters. So I'm thinking my theme will be to name the fillies with 11-letter words, while the boys' names will mostly have the word 'as' in them, since it's also my initials, A.S. At least that's my current plan!”
While he was introduced to the game as a fan, it was a friendly trip to Palm Meadows in early 2019 that had Swift thinking seriously about buying his own racehorses. He met with trainer Kelly Breen that day and had his first tour of what goes on behind the scenes.
“I was like a kid in a candy store,” he said, remembering walking down the shed rows and seeing the horses up close. “I was just in awe, and I loved everything about it.”
Over the next few months he and Breen met regularly to get to know one another a little better, and Swift decided he'd found the person with whom he wanted to invest.
“We hit it off pretty quickly,” said Swift. “He's just a really good person, first, and a good horseman second… It's really important to me that he gets the credit he deserves. He has truly been a great friend and business partner, helping me realize this dream.”
With Breen by his side, Swift attended the April 2-year-old sale at OBS. He intended to buy one horse there and claim a second sometime during the summer, but when the first horse came in under his intended budget, Swift wound up buying both his horses there.
As Seen On TV was the first purchase, hammering for $50,000. Breen explained that he thought the colt would be ready to run fairly quickly, and that another horse had caught his eye which might take a bit more time, but should be just as nice.
The filly, Testimonial, commanded a final bid of $57,000. She debuted in a maiden special weight on December 1st at Gulfstream, running second by just a neck after her jockey, Nik Juarez, dropped his whip in mid-stretch.
“I guess everyone always has big hopes when they buy a racehorse,” Swift said. “But it's one thing when you spend a fortune on the pedigree, and it's another thing with the way we did it… I know this isn't typical for a new owner, but I'm still enjoying the ride!”
As Seen On TV made his first career start in a maiden special weight at Monmouth Park in late August, winning by a head after a long stretch drive.
“It was the greatest feeling,” said Swift. “I don't know of another industry than can replicate the thrill of watching your horse hit the wire first.”
After a second-place effort in Monmouth's listed Smoke Glacken Stakes, As Seen On TV returned to South Florida to win the Juvenile Sprint Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths. His second in the Mucho Macho Man was the colt's fourth career start.
As for what will come next for his star 3-year-old colt, Swift will leave that decision up to Breen.
“Every day, it's 'How's he doing today?'” Swift explained. “Kelly is very cautious and has such a 'wait and see' mentality, so I'm not sure where we'll go next. I'm sure we'll look at all the options, and I'm excited to see him stretch out.
“None of this would have happened without Kelly and his expertise, so he'll make the call… All the puzzle pieces of different things that go into training are so interesting to me. He's a great trainer.”
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