Analysis: Drain the Clock the right play in Fountain of Youth

Analysis: Drain the Clock the right play in Fountain of Youth
Photo: Liz Lamont / Eclipse Sportswire

Betting on an unproven horse at a new distance or surface makes sense only if the odds offer enough value. In the case of the Grade 2, $300,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream, the morning line favorite Greatest Honour might attract more money than his 9-5 odds suggest, leaving other contenders at more favorable odds.

Click here for Gulfstream entries, results.

As for the unproven horse in question, the talented Drain the Clock enters the race with four wins in five overall races, all at sprint distances ranging from five to seven furlongs. In the Fountain of Youth, he makes his two-turn route debut for trainer Saffie Joseph Jr.

Drain the Clock has shown plenty of talent in his four wins. Most recently, he took the local seven-furlong Swale Stakes (G3) with a 106 on TimeformUS.

Here is a brief recap of his Swale run.

In the first half-mile, Drain the Clock sits in second right off pacesetter Poppy’s Pride, and that looks like his preferred position overall. 

On the turn, Drain the Clock secures the lead under his own power.

Then in the stretch run, he draws clear to win by 6 1/4 lengths under urging from jockey Edgard Zayas. The urging is not a huge deal, as Zayas gave him mild encouragement at best.

King’s Ovation and Ultimate Badger finished second and third. Those two long shots are not great closers, but they passed tired horses.

Despite mild fractions of 22.48 and 45.27, the public second choice Likeable faded in the stretch to fourth by 11 1/4 lengths after briefly clawing his way into second on the turn. Also, Poppy’s Pride folded to fifth by 22 1/4 lengths at 5-1 after taking pressure from Drain the Clock.

Those two horses were decent runners on paper, but they became dead tired late. In contrast, Drain the Clock was in a pressing position and had plenty left in the stretch run.   

Drain the Clock finished the Swale in 1:23.29. Three races later in the Forward Gal Stakes (G3), Zaajel completed the seven furlongs over a second slower in only 1:24.72. In fairness, perhaps the Forward Gal was a weak group of 3-year-old fillies. But the time difference is notable.

Can Drain the Clock handle 1 1/16 miles?

The way in which Drain the Clock finishes off his races points toward a yes answer. He opens up in the stretch run and destroys the field. 

In terms of pedigree, there is turf routing blood on Drain the Clock’s bottom side. The second dam Private Ice is a half-sister to stakes-winning turf router Midnight Line, who won the 1 1/2-mile Long Island Handicap (G2) in 1999 to finish off her career.

Furthermore, Private Ice’s own sire Pivotal is the sire of numerous stakes-winning turf routers, including the 7-year-old European gelding Addeybb, who took the 1 1/4-mile Champion Stakes (G1) last October at Ascot, as well as the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) and Ranvet Stakes (G1) in Australia earlier in the year at the same distance.

Even though there is some guessing involved as to whether he can handle the distance, Drain the Clock is the top choice. Expect him to utilize his speed on the rail, with Tarantino and Prime Factor chasing him about a length or two behind.

There is minor concern of Prime Factor dueling with Drain the Clock, but that is not likely considering that Prime Factor ran as a stalker in the Holy Bull. He was a presser in his career debut at six furlongs, but only because of a moderate pace. Drain the Clock is likely too fast early.

Assuming he is too fast, Drain the Clock is supposed to enjoy a small cushion in the first half-mile, which will help propel him to victory if he can separate on the second turn and hold off Greatest Honour late.

Greatest Honour is obviously capable of winning as well.

The regally bred son of Tapit closed strongly in the Holy Bull Stakes (G2) and finished off the race with a 5 3/4-length winning margin and a 115 TimeformUS Speed Figure.

Now, Greatest Honour faces the same distance and almost the same group of horses, plus new faces in Drain the Clock and turf star Fire At Will. He also drew Post 8 this time, after drawing a similar Post 7 in the Holy Bull.

The 1 1/16-mile configuration at Gulfstream is supposed to work against Greatest Honour’s closing style because of the shorter stretch. Yet it did not bother him in the Holy Bull.

The downside to Greatest Honour is the lack of value. Although his odds are listed at 9-5 on the morning line, the combination of a standout pedigree, trainer Shug McGaughey and the strength of his Holy Bull victory means his odds could fall to even money.

Is even money acceptable on him? If Drain the Clock does not fire, horses such as Prime Factor and Tarantino could move forward off their Holy Bull efforts and possibly challenge Drain the Clock. Also, Fire At Will may improve in his second dirt attempt and first as a 3-year-old.  

Nevertheless, Greatest Honour is a must-use in multi-race wagers alongside the blog choice Drain the Clock. For vertical wagers, though, Drain the Clock is more interesting from a pace and value perspective. 

Bets

Win – Drain the Clock

Trifecta

1st – Drain the Clock

2nd – Greatest Honour

3rd – Prime Factor, Tarantino, Fire At Will, Sososubtle, King’s Ovation, Papetu

2021 Fountain of Youth (G2)


Meet Reinier Macatangay

My first time at the racetrack came as a 5-year-old kid at Santa Anita Park. For most of my younger life, that was the only track I attended other the occasional visit to Hollywood Park. 

Years later, after graduating California State University, Stanislaus with an English MA, I began writing for Lady and the Track. From late 2014-2016, my articles were seen on a weekly basis and covered handicapping, interviews with well-known racing personalities, fashion and more. 

The handicapping style I use concentrates on pace analysis. Some horses are compromised by the pace. Others are helped. Handicappers just starting out cannot easily see how pace affects the finish, so with this blog, I hope to help those unsure of how to apply pace into their handicapping and post-race analysis. 

On an unrelated note, I enjoy video games and attending anime or comic-book conventions. I am currently based in Kentucky, but spend a lot of time traveling between there and California.

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