Eyeing Clover breaks his maiden on debut at Oaklawn Park Dec. 31, 2022 (Coady Photography)
NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Ten Strike Racing’s co-managing partner Marshall Gramm is hopeful that two-time winning sophomore Eyeing Clover can make his presence known on the Kentucky Derby trail when targeting the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham on March 4 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The one-turn mile Gotham is the penultimate local prep on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and awards the top-five finishers points based off a 50-20-15-10-5 scale.
Eyeing Clover was a debut winner sprinting six furlongs on New Year’s Eve at Oaklawn Park before shipping to Fair Grounds Race Course and defeating winners going the same distance on January 28 by 9 3/4 lengths. He is trained Brad Cox, who captured the most recent local qualifier when Gary and Mary West’s Hit Show won the Grade 3 Withers on February 4.
According to Gramm, who manages Ten Strike Racing alongside Clay Sanders, a strong run in the Gotham would likely warrant a return to Oaklawn Park for the nine-furlong Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on April 1 – a 100-40-30-20-10 Kentucky Derby qualifier.
“The core of our partners are Arkansans and we wanted to use this step towards the Arkansas Derby. That’s a race we’d really love to win and participate in,” Gramm said. “For us, the dream race is the Arkansas Derby and the Gotham seems like a good stepping stone for it. We didn’t want to quite jump up from an allowance to first time routing in the [Grade 2] Rebel [at Oaklawn Park] next week from a timing standpoint and that race looks really tough. But the Gotham looks like it could be a really competitive race as well.”
Bred by Mike Abraham, Eyeing Clover, by Lookin At Lucky, is out of the Forest Wildcat mare Floral Park, which makes him a half-brother to graded stakes winning female sprinter Heavenhasmynikki.
“We’ve been huge Lookin At Lucky fans and we think this one is going to get better as the distances get longer, though his female family is fairly sprint-based,” Gramm said. “We’re excited about coming to New York for the Gotham and excited about the horse’s future. They bred a speedy female family to Looking At Lucky and it’s given us an early developer. We have every reason to believe based on the sire that he should improve going longer and we hope the Gotham is that first step towards the Arkansas Derby.”
Gramm mentioned Ten Strike Racing’s New York-bred mare Lucky Move as an example of a Lookin At Lucky offspring that took some time to mature. Lucky Move did not win her first stakes until she was a 6-year-old, capturing the Empire Distaff and Bay Ridge on the NYRA circuit. Ten Strike Racing claimed Lucky Move for $30,000 from a one-mile turf event in April 2019 at Churchill Downs.
“It took her a while to break her maiden and she won her a-other-than as a 5-year-old and won stakes races at six, but it was a long time coming,” Gramm said. “What makes Eyeing Clover so attractive is that he’s an early-maturing Lookin At Lucky.”
Gramm credited bloodstock agent Liz Crow, who also serves as Ten Strike Racing’s stable manager, for selecting Eyeing Clover for $55,000 out of the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
“We’ve been working with Liz and she buys all of our yearlings and 2-year-olds. This was one that really jumped out at her,” Gramm said. “It was a fast-looking Lookin At Lucky and she knew our affinity for the stallion and loved the female family as well. Hopefully, putting those two together can put us on the trail.”
Eyeing Clover will likely not be the only Gotham aspirant for Cox, who could also send out regally-bred maiden winner Slip Mahoney. Owned by Gold Square, Slip Mahoney, by Arrogate and out of the Grade 1-winning A.P. Indy mare Got Lucky, worked five furlongs in 1:01 over the Belmont Park training track on Saturday.