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Breeders' Cup 2017

Isn't He Clever settles in at Oaklawn Park

Isn't He Clever settles in at Oaklawn Park
Photo: Oaklawn Park

Isn’t He Clever was getting a bath Friday morning after jogging a mile at Oaklawn. Trainer Henry Dominguez stood nearby, none the worse for wear after a Thursday flight from El Paso, Tx., to the Hot Springs Municipal Airport.

 

“Him and the mare handled it better than I did,” Dominguez joked, referring to the Arkansas Derby (G1) contender and his stablemate, Twelve Twenty Two, who will start in Friday’s Apple Blossom Handicap (G1).

 

Indeed, Kirk and Judy Robison’s slender son of 2004 Arkansas Derby winner Smarty Jones seemed to be taking in his new surroundings without a nonplussed air.   

 

“He’s not a very big horse but he’s very agile and kind,” Dominguez said. “He’s everything you want him to be, he’s got everything you want in a horse.”

 

Coming off a runner-up finish by three-quarters of a length in the Sunland Park Derby (G3), Isn’t He Clever will have to step up his game to contend on the Grade 1 level while seeking a berth in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

 

“He’s got enough earnings that if we’re at least third here, we’ll get in to the Derby field,” Dominguez said. “This is the first time we’re really going to test him and find out what caliber he is. He’s going to tell us a lot about where we need to run him going forward. Everybody says he’s a second-tier horse – we really need to find out what kind of a horse he is.”

 

Pletcher Runners Have Easy Morning

 

Todd Pletcher's Arkansas Derby contenders Stat and Raconteur both galloped this morning at Oaklawn, and assistant trainer Michael Dilger reported all was well. 

 

"They're both young horses that are training well, looking to step up to the big leagues," he said. "Two nice horses trying to get their shot at the Kentucky Derby."


Win or lose, both Pletcher trainees will be on a flight out of Hot Springs headed back to Pletcher's Florida base at Palm Meadows on Monday morning.

"That's where they'd prep for the Kentucky Derby," Dilger said.

 

Now they just have to win on Saturday to get there.

 

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