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Clear Attempt Springs Poker Upset

Clear Attempt rewarded his connections for their confidence by springing an 8-1 upset in the Grade 3 Poker on Wednesday at Belmont, giving Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and owners Martin and Pam Wygod their second straight victory in the one-mile turf race.


Even though Clear Attempt was eligible for the second allowance condition, Mott and the Wygods, who won the 2011 Poker with Courageous Cat, decided to enter the regally bred 4-year-old in the $150,000 Poker.


The colt handled the rise in class with aplomb, tracking pacesetter Yield Bogey behind fractions of 48.12 and 1:11.22, wresting command in midstretch, and shrugging off a challenge from even-money favorite Compliance Officer to win by 1 ¾ lengths. Yield Bogey finished third, an additional half-length behind Compliance Officer.


“My horse broke very good,” said winning jockey Jose Lezcano. “He was very comfortable, he didn’t pull me. When the favorite moved outside, I moved with him and I kept waiting until the quarter-pole to really ask him. When I asked him, he gave me a good kick and finished good.”


The Poker marked the first graded stakes win for Clear Attempt, a son of Horse of the Year A.P. Indy and Grade 1 winner Silent Sighs. Clear Attempt, who completed the distance in 1:34.01 and paid $19.80 for a $2 win wager, is now 3-4-1 in 11 starts and has earned $197,902, including $90,000 for his Poker score.


Clear Attempt was second his in two previous 2012 starts, optional claimers at Gulfstream Park on January 22 and Belmont on May 18.


“This race wasn’t setting up to be terribly, terribly tough, and cutting him back a little bit seemed like the thing to do,” said Leanna Willaford, an assistant to Mott, who also won the Poker in 1998 with track-record holder Elusive Quality. “Bill just takes his time [with his horses]. He’s marinating them. We’ve always liked this horse. He’s been one we aspired to win a stakes with.”


Boots Ahead was fourth, followed home by Right One, Voodoo Storm, and Gourmet Dinner. Queen’splatekitten, Monument Hill, El Commodore, and main-track-only entrants Uncle T Seven and Isn’t He Perfect were scratched.




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