OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Saturday’s stakes action at Aqueduct Racetrack kicked off when Drain the Clock solidified his 1-5 favoritism while capturing his second graded stakes triumph, going gate-to-wire in the Grade 3, $200,000 Bay Shore for 3-year-olds.
The Maclean’s Music chestnut colt cut back in distance for the seven-furlong sprint after finishing second in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on February 27 at Gulfstream Park.
Drain the Clock was a step slow leaving the gate under jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., but quickly established command. Two-time winning Parx invader Beren, who stumbled at the start, kept close company to the outside in second as Drain the Clock led the compact five-horse field through opening fractions of 23.68 and 47.97 seconds over the fast main track.
Around the turn, Drain the Clock extended his advantage as Beren began to relinquish. Ortiz, Jr. got busy aboard his charge nearing the quarter pole and opened up a 4 ½-length lead in upper stretch.
Drain the Clock lugged out slightly nearing the furlong marker as Ortiz, Jr. went to the left hand with Whiskey Double launching a late bid to the outside. By the sixteenth pole, Ortiz, Jr. had Drain the Clock under wraps as he strolled past the finish line a 1 3/4-length winner in a final time of 1:25.97. Whiskey Double made up considerable ground to get second, 5 3/4 lengths ahead of Too Boss in third.
Beren and Garoppolo rounded out the order of finish.
Owned by Slam Dunk Racing, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Michael Nentwig, Drain the Clock improved his record to 7-5-1-0, with his other graded stakes win coming two starts back in the Grade 3 Swale on January 30 at Gulfstream Park, which also was at seven furlongs.
“He just wants to break out of there. He broke a little [slow] out of there but he put himself right away into the race and took me to the lead,” said Ortiz, Jr., who returned to New York fresh off a riding title at Gulfstream Park. “I let him relax and then I asked him to go and he was running hard to the wire.”
The victory was a first graded stakes win in New York for Florida-based trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr., who will have a string at Belmont Park this summer for the first time.
“I thought he kicked away well at the top of the lane and did what he had to do. If you ease up on him, he’s going to relax,” Joseph, Jr. said. “The five [Beren] didn’t get a good break, unfortunately, and we didn’t get pressed. If that horse went, we were going to sit. He’s a very versatile horse and he doesn’t need the lead.”
A NYRA Grade 1 could be in order for Drain the Clock, as Joseph, Jr. listed the $400,000 Woody Stephens on June 5 at Belmont Park and the $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial on August 28 at Saratoga as long terms goals for the talented colt.
“I’ll talk it over with the ownership group. The Woody Stephens was in play even before this race but this puts it even more up there,” Joseph, Jr. said. “It’s definitely on the radar. The Woody Stephens and Allen Jerkens are the types of races you want to be in. If we could win one it would be nice, if we could win both it would be great.”
Bred in Kentucky by Nick Cosato, Drain the Clock is the third offspring out of the Arch mare Manki, whose two other progeny of racing age are winners.
Drain the Clock banked $110,000 in victory while improving his lifetime earnings to $319,550. He returned $2.70 for a $2 win ticket.
Live racing resumes Thursday at Aqueduct with an eight-race card. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.
Aqueduct Press Release
Photo: Drain the Clock, (Lauren King)