Now will go in search of his first graded stakes victory in more than
seven months when he contests the Grade 3, $400,000 Belmont Sprint
Championship at seven furlongs for older horses on Saturday at Belmont
Park, as part of the inaugural Stars & Stripes Day card.
Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese
winning the Grade 3 Bold Ruler last fall at Belmont Park with a gaudy
109 Beyer Speed Figure, Clearly Now has yet to return to the winner's
circle. In the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap, the Horse Greeley colt
appeared poised to make a winning move before clipping heels in the
stretch and running on to finish fifth. The Brian Lynch trainee made his
2014 debut in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap on April 5 at Aqueduct
Racetrack and finished a non-threatening third with no apparent trouble.
his next start, the Grade 2 Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby
undercard, Clearly Now was squeezed back at the start, leaving him at
the back of the pack. Nearly overcoming the poor start, the 4-year-colt
made a wide, sustained rally to finish third, 1 ¾ lengths behind Central
Banker, who will also be contesting the Belmont Sprint Championship.
Clearly Now's most recent start came in the one-mile, Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, in which he finished fifth.
seems well," said Lynch, who trains the colt for Up Hill Stable. "He's a
lightly raced horse this year - he's only run three times - so we're
hoping he could be sitting on one of his best races. It would sure help
if he could start well and stay out of traffic. I thought he ran great
in the Churchill Downs, closing on a speed-biased track, and one of his
best races came at Belmont Park, so we know he likes the track. "
Clearly Now, the second choice on the morning line at 3-1, will be ridden by Jose Lezcano from post 3.
morning-line favorite at 5-2, Central Banker is exiting a win in the
Churchill Downs, a performance that earned him a career-best Beyer of
107. Trained by Al Stall for Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence,
the 4-year-old colt has made only two starts in 2014, the other being a
sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Carter.
Central Banker was entered in the Met Mile, but was scratched before the race.
been in New York since the weekend of the Belmont Stakes and he's been
training well here," said Stall. "We're looking forward to running him
seven-eighths as opposed to a mile and happy to not be running against
[Met Mile winner] Palace Malice."
Nakatani, who piloted Central Banker to victory in the Churchill Downs,
will be back aboard and the pair will break from post 2.
Banker and others may have the luxury of dodging one of the best older
horses in the country in Palace Malice; however, they will have to deal
with the Linda Rice-trained Palace. A New York-bred owned by Antonino
Miuccio, Palace was an impressive winner of the Grade 2 True North on
June 6 at Belmont in his last start. The 5-year-old horse drew the
outermost slot in the field of nine and sits at 7-2 on the morning line.
outside post leaves us a lot of options," said Rice. "He's pretty
versatile. He's just like his father. I thought the True North was a
spectacular race on his part. I had sent him home for an eight to 10
week vacation and only had him back for six weeks. I wasn't sure he'd
make the race. He was still a little heavy and it was a true testament
to what a great horse he is. I think he's ready for a good race this
Palace will be ridden by Cornelio Velasquez.
Amigos, 5-1 on the morning line, has proven to be a shrewd acquisition
by trainer and part-owner David Jacobson. The 4-year-old son of Salute
the Sarge has won three of four races since Jacobson took over training
duties, with his one defeat coming in the True North, in which he
finished a late-running third by 1 ¾ lengths.
Salutos Amigos, who drew post 7, will be ridden for the first time by Corey Lanerie on Saturday.
Grade 1 Carter winner Dads Caps will look to add another graded stakes
to his resume on Saturday. After winning the Carter by 1 ½ lengths, the
Rudy Rodriguez pupil took a step back in the True North, finishing fifth
by 11 ¾ lengths.
Dads Caps, 10-1 on the morning line, will be ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr. from post 5.
out the field are Declan's Warrior, who finished eighth in the Met Mile
in his last start; Moonlight Song, who defeated Palace in his most
recent outing, the Gold and Roses on January 16 at Aqueduct; Mezzano,
runner-up in the Donald LeVine Memorial at Parx in his most recent
outing; and Big Screen, who finished second in the Grade 3 Poker on turf
in his latest start.