Drain the Clock (Slam Dunk Racing) will make his graded-stakes debut in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Claiborne Farm Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park for connections who are hoping to keep things short and sweet.
Although also nominated to the $200,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3), the 1 1/16-mile Curlin Florida Derby prep that will headline a 12-race program with five graded stakes, Drain the Clock will seek to remain undefeated in South Florida in the seven-furlong undercard feature for 3-year-olds.
||Drain the Clock
|Saffie Joseph, Jr.
||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
"The Swale is a good opportunity to stretch him out an eighth of a mile more. We feel like it's a race that's his for the taking," trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said.
Drain the Clock captured his Sept. 12 debut in a five-furlong off-the-turn maiden special weight race at Gulfstream before winning a first-level optional claiming allowance at six furlongs at Gulfstream Park West Oct. 28. The son of Maclean's Music was favored to win the Nov. 28 Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs but unseated his rider when a rein broke during the race.
The Joseph trainee rebounded in a big way at Gulfstream Park Jan. 2 while winning the six-furlong Limehouse Stakes by 7 ½ lengths.
"His last race was a breakthrough race. We always thought a lot of him. First time out he showed that he could relax. Second time out was more workmanlike. Third time out everything went wrong," Joseph said. "To see him come back like that was more impressive than we could have imagined. It was satisfying to see him win like that."
Joseph said he isn't ruling out a future stretch-out for Drain the Clock.
"It's definitely in the backs of our minds. We just want to take it step by step," Joseph said. "The owners are very realistic. They're not going to get Derby Fever. They want to do what's right by the horse."
Edgard Zayas, who has been aboard Drain the Clock for all three victories, has the return mount.
Repole Stable, St. Elias Stable and Stonestreet Stables LLC's Likeable will cut back in distance for the Swale after finishing far back in the 1 1/16-mile Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Keeneland after pressing a solid early pace.
"We kind of threw him to the wolves in the Breeders' Cup. He went too fast early on," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "We've regrouped since then and he's been training well. We feel like backing up to seven furlongs will be a good distance for him."
The son of Frosted finished second in a photo finish in his Saratoga debut Aug. 22 before graduating in a one-turn mile race at Belmont by 8 ¼ lengths.
Luis Saez has the call aboard Likeable.
Jump Sucker Stable, Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider's By George will make only his second career start in the Swale, following his 5 ¼-length maiden romp at Aqueduct Dec. 19.
Irad Ortiz Jr. has the call aboard the Christophe Clement-trained son of Into Mischief.
Stonehedge LLC's Poppy's Pride will seek his fourth straight stakes victory Saturday. The son of Khozan, who is eligible for a $25,000 win-only bonus offered to Florida Sire Stakes-eligible runners, came off a maiden victory to capture the off-the-turf Armed Forces at Gulfstream, the Juvenile Sprint for Florida-breds at Gulfstream Park and the Inaugural at Tampa Bay Downs Dec. 5.
Jesus Rios, who was aboard for the Armed Forces and Juvenile Sprint wins, has the call.
Jim Bakke and Gerry Isbister's Ultimate Badger and West Point Thoroughbreds and Peacock Stable's King's Ovation will represent trainer Dale Romans in the Holy Bull. Ultimate Badger finished fifth in the Mucho Macho Man Jan. 2 at Gulfstream, while King's Ovation was no factor in an optional claiming allowance at Churchill Downs after breaking his maiden in his second career start.
Jose Ortiz has the call on Ultimate Badger, while Corey Lanerie is named on King's Ovation.
OffTrackBetting.com - US Legal Gulfstream Park OTB is a great way to bet horse racing at Gulfstream Park. Available to customers across the United States, OTB features both Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing from major racing venues in the US as well as top international racing from Europe, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong.