OZONE PARK, N.Y. — A compact but competitive field of 3-year-old dirt sprinters has assembled for Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Bay Shore at seven furlongs on the Aqueduct Racetrack main track led by Florida shipper Drain the Clock, who enters off a runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park.
While the temptation for most connections would be to forge ahead on the Kentucky Derby trail after picking up 20 qualifying points in the Fountain of Youth, trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. and an ownership coalition of Slam Dunk Racing, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Michael Nentwig have elected to abandon such quixotic pursuits and instead focus on shorter races with their talented sophomore.
A son of Maclean’s Music out of an Arch mare, Drain the Clock has a sparkling record in sprint races, with only one blemish on his resume which came in the two-turn, seven-furlong Jean Lafitte at Delta Downs when an iron broke and he lost his rider. Aside from that mishap, the chestnut colt has four wins in dirt dashes, including a pair of open-length tallies at Gulfstream during their recent Championship Meet, and nearly wired the field last out in the Fountain of Youth but was run down late by a legitimate Kentucky Derby prospect in Greatest Honour.
“He’s never got beat going one turn,” said Joseph, Jr. “He ran a credible race in the Fountain of Youth but I think he’s best at one turn and we’re hoping he’ll show up and run his usual race.”
Looking for his fifth win from just seven starts, Drain the Clock will break from post 3 with Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard for the first time.
While Drain the Clock has undoubtedly compiled the most impressive resume of anyone in the Bay Shore, a quartet of hungry challengers has lined up behind him to take their shots.
The likely favorite’s stiffest competition could come from the Pennsylvania-bred Beren, who is seeking his third straight victory as he makes his foray into New York via Parx Racing.
Trained by Butch Reid for St. Omer’s Farm and Christopher Feifarek, it took Beren a little while to figure things out but he’s been in solid form in 2021 as he broke his maiden by 6 1/4-lengths two starts ago and followed it up with a two-length score over a group of first-level optional claimers on March 3 at Parx.
“He’s doing very well. He just had a nice little blowout, has won his last two and is brimming with confidence. It’s a short field so why not take a chance,” said Reid. “He’s really matured this year. He was a gangly horse as a 2-year-old but he’s filled out nicely and looks good. He put on weight like a 3-year-old colt should and we’re real excited about him.”
Beren will be ridden by Manny Franco from post 5.
Coming off a win in the slop at Oaklawn Park, the Steve Asmussen-trained Whiskey Double adds to the out-of-town flavor of the Bay Shore.
A bay son of Into Mischief, Whiskey Double took his debut early in his juvenile year on June 27 at Churchill Downs but didn’t resurface again until January of this year, when he finished third in a sprint at Fair Grounds behind O Besos, who recently placed third in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. After a dull effort going 1 1/16 miles on February 13 at Fair Grounds, Whiskey Double responded well to a turnback in distance in his last start, in which he prevailed by three-quarters of a length in a six-furlong dash at Oaklawn.
Jose Ortiz will be aboard the Winchell Thoroughbreds color-bearer from post 4.
Not to be forgotten in this diverse Bay Shore cast, the local contingent will be represented by Too Boss and Garoppolo, who go out for trainers Todd Pletcher and Kelly Breen, respectively.
A gray son of El Padrino, the former broke his maiden over this same track and distance by 5 ½ lengths on January 17 with an 81 Beyer Speed Figure, but things went awry in his last start going two turns at Parx on a sloppy track and he finished fourth, beaten seven lengths. He’ll look to bounce back from the inside post with Kendrick Carmouche in the irons.
Garoppolo, meanwhile, has been off since contesting the Grade 2 Saratoga Special on August 7 at Saratoga Race Course last year. Prior to his distant fourth-place finish in the Saratoga Special, the Outwork colt broke his maiden at Belmont Park, where he appears to be working well for his return over the adjacent training track. Owned by Mr. Amore Stable and to be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, Garoppolo will depart from post 2 as he makes his 3-year-old debut.
Part of a stellar undercard for the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino, the Bay Shore is one of five graded stakes races on the program, which also includes the Grade 1, $300,000 Carter Handicap, the Grade 3, $250,000 Gazelle, and the Grade 3, $150,000 Excelsior.
The Bay Shore is slated as Race 4 on the 11-race card. First post is at 12:50 p.m. Eastern.
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Aqueduct Press Release
Photo: Drain the Clock, (Lauren King)