Clear the Air breaks his maiden Jan. 6 at Turfway Park (Coady Photography)
NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Trainer Will Walden is leaning toward a return to New York with Cypress Creek Equine’s Clear the Air for the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino on April 8 at Aqueduct Racetrack. The nine-furlong event is the final local Kentucky Derby qualifier, offering the top-five finishers points based off a 100-40-30-20-10 allotment.
Clear the Air earned five points following a troubled fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Gotham on March 4 at the Big A and is currently 56th on the leaderboard. Breaking from the inside in the full field of 14, Clear the Air maintained rail-skimming position from seventh over the muddy and sealed going before going four wide in upper stretch and checking around the three-sixteenths pole. He continued to find more down the lane and finished 10 3/4 lengths in arrears of the victorious Raise Cain.
“It wasn’t really what we drew up on paper going into it. I know when you get a bunch of horses running around in the slop, it almost never goes according to plan,” Walden said. “Raise Cain got some momentum. He went inside and we went outside. The hole we were going for closed at the three sixteenths. When you get fully stopped on a big horse, it can be hard to re-rally. But he started picking off horses and started to get going. But by that time, it was too late in the game. If he doesn’t get stopped, I think he ends up second or third.”
Prior to the Gotham, Clear the Air endured another troubled trip when fourth in a one-mile optional claimer on February 11 at Turfway Park – his lone two-turn start. A close third early on, Clear the Air was shuffled back around the far turn but made a valiant effort to finish 3 3/4-lengths back of the victorious Wadsworth, who finished fourth in Saturday’s Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks.
Fifth on debut last summer at Ellis Park, he returned to racing action with vigor, breaking his maiden sprinting six furlongs on January 6 at Turfway Park.
Walden said he was encouraged by the two-turn effort.
“It’s a question we want to answer. He’s a big, long stretchy horse and he’s very efficient. The way he breezes and gallops out, he looks like a two-turn horse,” Walden said. “He also did run two turns at Turfway going a mile. That was again a horrible trip. He never got out of cover until well inside the sixteenth pole. But the two turns that day never seemed to be an issue. He looked loaded the whole time.”
Bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm, Clear the Air is the third progeny out of the More Than Ready mare Marsali. Clear the Air’s third dam is 1997 Champion Older Mare Hidden Lake. He was purchased for $95,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Walden pointed out that Clear the Air is a late foal with room to blossom.
“He won’t officially be a 3-year-old until May 5. I’ve felt all along that this horse has all the talent in the world,” Walden said. “I believe he has graded stake type of potential. I don’t know exactly when the lightbulb will fully go off. He’s still big and green, but if things go right for him, he can put it together. It wouldn’t shock me if he went up there and ran really big.”