Saffie Joseph Jr. has every reason to feel confident as Drain the Clock heads into Saturday's Grade 2 Amsterdam for a rematch with Jackie's Warrior.
In the Woody Stephens (G2) on June 5 at Belmont Park, Joseph's 3-year-old colt tracked Jackie's Warrior throughout before prevailing by a neck.
"It's good for racing to have those kind of matches," Joseph told Horse Racing Nation on Wednesday. "Obviously, I'd prefer not to have to run against Jackie's Warrior again, because he's such a good horse. But when your horse is doing good, you can't really duck anybody. You just got to work for your horse, and all seems in good order. We're hopeful of another good performance."
If you have not paid attention, you might not be aware of what Joseph means when he says Drain the Clock has been doing good. He has won 6 of 8 career starts. The two losses? A second-place finish in the Fountain of Youth (G1) and a "did not finish" last November when an iron broke and he lost his rider.
Joseph said that if Drain the Clock does well on Saturday, the race would be a stepping stone to the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 28.
Joseph has another starter in another big race at Saratoga on Saturday. Mischevious Alex will go in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1).
The 4-year-old Into Mischief colt started the year with three straight wins, including in the Carter (G1), before finishing third last out June 5 in the Met Mile (G1).
"I thought he ran creditably" in the Met Mile, Joseph said. "Going into the race, he had run at a mile already, but I wasn't sure if he was as good going a mile. And I thought it was a solid effort at a distance that's probably not his best. It didn't leave me against trying a mile one more time later in the year, but for right now we're going to keep at six (furlongs). Hopefully until the Breeders' Cup Sprint."
In the Vanderbilt, he will cut back to six furlongs.
"I think six and seven is probably his best distance," he said. "I find he has enough speed to sit close enough, and if he needs the lead he can lead, also. He is very strong at six and seven."
He will face tough competition here, too, with Whitmore and Firenze Fire expected in the field.
"You always respect your competition," Joseph said. "They're very good horses in their own right, but I feel like we're as good as them."
Another Joseph colt with Saratoga in his future is Chance It, who is pointed to the Forego on Aug. 28.
The 4-year-old colt came back in May after a 14-month layoff to finish second in an allowance race at Gulfstream. Last out he finished second to Miles Ahead in the Smile Sprint (G3).
He won 3 of 4 races as a 2-year-old and started his 2020 campaign with a win in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes. He worked a bullet five furlongs in 58.93 seconds at Saratoga on Monday.
"He was a horse that showed a lot of talent his 2- and 3-year-old years," Joseph said. "To see him come back off the layoff with two credible runs, it leaves you very happy. He hasn't won, but he's run fast on the figures. We feel like he's going to continue to progress."
In the Monmouth Park Oaks (G3) in New Jersey on Saturday, Joseph plans to start Allworthy, a 3-year-old Tonalist filly of whom he is a part owner. She broke her maiden on third try in May at Gulfstream and then won an allowance race last out July 4.
"She's just a progressive filly that just got better close to her debut," Joseph said. "She got better and better and ran two decent races first time and then stretched out to a mile, she won.
"After that race we sold some ownership to new partners – well, existing owners, Slam Dunk and some other partners – and she came back, and she won again in the (allowance) event. And now we're on the way to the Monmouth Oaks. Hopefully she can go there and run her race. She trained more decent since, she's improved again. So you hope, going against better horses, she can rise to the occasion."
As HRN reported last week, Joseph had Math Wizard poised to make his comeback Friday as a main-track-only entrant in an allowance race at Saratoga, but the race remained on the turf.
Joseph said Wednesday the plan now is to have him run next week at Saratoga, either in an allowance race or in the Alydar.
The 5-year-old Math Wizard gave Joseph his first Grade 1 win in the 2019 Pennsylvania Derby, but he has not won since. His last start was a ninth-place finish in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) in January.
"He's doing good," Joseph said. "I feel like he's rounding back into his form. Next week, all being well, if he continues well, he should run a good race for us."