Clearly Now sees his way clear to victory in G3 Bold Ruler 'Cap
By Jenny Kellner | 10/26/2013 06:12 PM ET
Newly outfitted with blinkers, Clearly Now collared front-running favorite Strapping Groom at the top of the stretch and pulled away to a 1 ½-length victory in Saturday's 38th running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Bold Ruler Handicap at Belmont Park.
Clearly Now, who was beaten less than a length in each of his previous four starts, broke alertly under jockey Jose Lezcano and settled two lengths behind Strapping Groom, who set unpressured fractions of 22.90 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 45.49 for the half. Ranging up on the turn, Clearly Now seized command straightening for home and was never challenged thereafter, crossing the finish line in 1:21.52 for seven furlongs.
The victory was Clearly Now's first since taking Gulfstream Park's Grade 3 Swale in March, after which he finished second in the Grade 3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct Racetrack and third in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens presented by NYRA Rewards on Belmont Stakes Day. He was promoted from third to second in the Charlie Barley in July at Woodbine and most recently was runner-up in the Grade 3 Gallant Bob on September 21 at Parx Racing.
"He was on the verge of winning one of these races and today he put it all together, so it was great," said Brian Lynch, who trains the 3-year-old son of Horse Greeley for Up Hill Stable. "Admittedly at Parx the other day, he was on the worst part of the track, but we thought if we could adjust something to get him to switch [leads], it would make a difference. We started breezing him in blinkers and you could just see that that was the ticket."
Forty Tales finished second, with Saturday's Charm along to edge Strapping Groom for third. Big Screen was fifth, with Politicallycorrect checking in sixth.
"No excuse for him," said Strapping Groom's rider, Junior Alvarado. "He broke good and was on the lead. I never had pressure from anybody. I waited for as long as I could, and when I asked him he didn't kick."
No worse than third in10 career starts, Clearly Now earned $120,000 to increase his bankroll to $508,236. He returned $9.80 as the 7-2 third choice.
Lynch said the Bold Ruler likely will be the final start of the 2013 for Clearly Now before he travels to Florida to prepare for his 4-year-old campaign.
"We'll give him a bit of a break," he said. "He's had a great 3-year-old campaign and we look forward to ringing in the New Year."