Clement to have strong stakes representation to close out Aqueduct meet and start Belmont spring/summer docket
by NYRA Press Office
- Clement to have strong stakes representation to close out Aqueduct meet and start Belmont spring/summer docket
- Stakes-placed Truth Hurts points to Bed o' Roses; Overexaggerate to debut Friday
- New York stakes action could be in Collaborate's future plans
Trainer Christophe Clement is gearing up for what he hopes is a strong return to New York, with a plethora of stakes-veteran horses scheduled to compete during the upcoming 48-day Belmont Park spring/summer meet that runs from Thursday, April 22 through Sunday, July 11.
Clement, who won his first career NYRA training title by pacing all trainers for the fall meet at Aqueduct Racetrack, is still in Florida but said he will be back in the Big Apple next week.
“I’m excited to be back because New York is a big deal,” Clement said. “As a trainer, you just have to try again. It’s never a guarantee. Hopefully, things will work out.”
During the fall, Clement racked up 16 wins, one more than trainer Todd Pletcher for the most during the 18-day meet. To build on that, Clement will send out a contingent that will look to earn additional stakes blacktype early on the Belmont docket.
Otter Bend Stables’ Gufo, who won the Grade 1 Belmont Derby in his last New York start in October, is slated to start his 4-year-old campaign in either the Grade 2, $200,000 Fort Marcy for 4-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles on the turf on May 1, or the first Grade 1 of the Belmont meet in the $700,000 Man o’ War for older horses at 1 3/8 miles on the grass on May 8.
Gufo recorded a 4-1-1 ledger in six starts in 2020, posting wins in the English Channel at 1 1/16 miles on May 2, the 1 1/8-mile Grade 3 Kent at Delaware Park on July 4 an the 1 1/4-mile Belmont Derby. The Declaration of War colt finished second in the Saratoga Derby Invitational in August, which like the Belmont Derby is part of the NYRA Turf Triple series, as well as capping his year with a third place finish, a neck behind next-out winner Smooth Like Strait, in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby on November 28.
Gufo has been training at Payson Park in Florida, including a five-furlong work in 1:02.00 on April 3.
Clement will also send out a pair of turf stakes contenders even earlier, with Decorated Invader entered for Saturday’s $100,000 Danger’s Hour for 4-year-olds and up going one mile on Aqueduct’s inner turf. Decorated Invader, owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, William Freeman, William Sandbrook and Cheryl Manning, drew post 4 with Junior Alvarado in the irons. Decorated Invader will be making the first start of his 4-year-old year and is listed at 5-2 on the morning line.
While Decorated Invader will contest at a mile, Clement will save Oak Bluff Stables’ Therapist for a shorter turf stakes, pegging the $100,000 Elusive Quality on Belmont’s Opening Weekend on Saturday, April 24. The seven-furlong sprint will be the second stakes on the Belmont schedule, following the $100,000 Affirmed Success on April 23.
“He’s doing very well,” Clement said of Therapist, who has also been training at Payson Park. “He’s been successful going seven-eighths, so there’s no need to change when it’s working.”
Therapist won the 2019 Elusive Quality and captured last year’s First Defence. The New York homebred also won last year’s Artie Schiller going one mile on the Aqueduct turf in November. Therapist is 9-2-5 in 22 career starts.
Stakes-placed Truth Hurts points to Bed o' Roses; Overexaggerate to debut Friday
Truth Hurts, trained and co-owned by Chad Summers with J Stables, breezed five-eighths in 1:01.20 Wednesday on the Belmont dirt training track.
The 4-year-old Ontario-bred filly won her first two starts at the Big A, beginning with a 6 ½-furlong maiden win in December 2019 ahead of a two-length score in a one-turn mile against winners in January 2020. She followed with an off-the-board effort in the Busanda in February 2020, exiting with a minor injury.
On her return in August, she finished a good fourth going seven furlongs in the Audubon Oaks at Ellis Park before stretching out to two turns to be third in the Bison City in September on Tapeta at Woodbine. She completed her sophomore season with an off-the-board effort in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan going nine furlongs in October at Pimlico.
Summers said Truth Hurts is expected to return in an allowance sprint on April 23rd at Belmont with the Grade 3, $300,000 Bed o' Roses, a seven-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares on June 4 as the long-term target.
“She's doing good,” said Summers. “We gave her a little freshening after the Black-Eyed Susan and she's coming along really well. We'll point for an allowance race at Belmont and look for the Bed o' Roses the day before the Belmont Stakes.”
Being by 2014 Belmont Stakes-winner Tonalist and out of the Distorted Humor mare Witty Gal, Summers said he first expected Truth Hurts to appreciate added distance.
“I thought she would want to run all day but she's not the biggest horse in the world,” said Summers. “She broke her maiden at 6 1/2-furlongs and won at a mile second time out. We stretched her to a mile and an eighth in the Busanda and she got hurt.
“Her race at Ellis was a really good race and they set a track record that day,” he added. “In hindsight, it makes me think I was trying too hard to get her to do something she maybe doesn't want to do. Her mother won sprinting, so I'm going to keep her short.”
Summers will saddle Overexaggerate, a $47,000 purchase at the 2020 OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, in Friday’s opening race at the Big A, a six-furlong maiden allowance for 3-year-olds and up.
A field of six is led by 9-5 morning line favorite Dazzle Time, making his fifth start for trainer Michelle Nevin and includes debuts for Absolute Courage, a sophomore son of Into Mischief purchased for $800,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale to be saddled by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey as well as the Jorge Abreu-trained Supply and Demand, an Exaggerator gelding out of the Include mare Sun Salutation, who brought $230,000 in foal at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.
By Exaggerator and out of the stake winning mare Zenith, Overexaggerate is a half-brother to multiple graded stakes-winner Great Hunter, who captured the 2006 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland and the 2007 Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita.
“He's a nice horse. He's probably going to need the race and move forward off of that,” said Summers. “There's a few of us in the same boat in there. There's an $800,000 horse for Shug and a couple that have run before, so for a small field it's certainly a talented field. We’ve been pointing for that race for a while and we're looking forward to getting him started.”
Overexaggerate has posted a trio of gate works in preparation for his debut, including a bullet half-mile effort in 48.77 seconds on March 24 on the Belmont training track.
“He needs to come out of the gate,” said Summers. “He just kept getting bigger and bigger. I freshened him up after November and just let him chill and grow into his body. He's a big, beautiful horse.”
Jockey Eric Cancel, who recently captured the Big A winter meet jockey title, is red hot with 20 wins from his last 62 starts heading into Thursday's card. He will be tasked with helping Overexaggerate break sharp from the outermost post 6.
“From the pole, he's really good. From the gate, going '0 to 60,' he breaks good and then loses his footing and recovers,” Summers said regarding Overexaggerate. “The break will be key with him and we're excited to get Eric Cancel on him after his tear these past three weeks at Aqueduct, certainly no one is riding hotter than he is of the jocks that were here this winter.”
New York stakes action could be in Collaborate's future plans
After a disappointing fifth in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. has gone back to the drawing board with Collaborate and said that he would like to bring the Into Mischief colt to New York for stakes action this summer.
Owned by Three Chimneys Farm and e Five Thoroughbreds, Collaborate was a dazzling second-out winner by 12 ½ lengths, leading at every point of call going a one-turn mile on February 27 at Gulfstream Park.
The dominant effort prompted Joseph to try Collaborate against graded stakes company in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 27, where he finished fifth as the second choice. Collaborate was hustled out of the gate by jockey Tyler Gaffalione and tracked a close third in the clear to the outside but came up empty approaching the top of the stretch and was beaten 14 3/4 lengths by Known Agenda.
Joseph, Jr. said his faith in the horse has not wavered.
“He came out of the Florida Derby well,” Joseph said. “Obviously, the result was disappointing, but that’s racing. I think there’s better days ahead of him. I have no doubt in his ability. He’ll have to gain back his reputation by delivering, which I think he will. We’ll start back from ground zero and go from there. We’ll possibly stay in Florida for an allowance and then go to New York, but we’ll decide after a couple weeks.”
Bred in Kentucky by co-owner Three Chimneys Farm, Collaborate was purchased from the Denali Stud consignment at the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Yearling Sale for $600,000. He is out of the graded stakes-winning Quiet American mare Quiet Temper.
Joseph, Jr. also spoke of graded stakes-placed Ny Traffic, who will be part of the group that the South Florida-based horseman plans on sending for Belmont Park’s upcoming spring/summer meet. The New York-bred son of Cross Traffic has not raced since finishing ninth in the Grade 1 Preakness in October at Pimlico, but has been on the work tab at Gulfstream Park.
Last season, Ny Traffic was four times graded stakes-placed when finishing third in the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds Race Course and second in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds, Grade 3 Matt Winn at Churchill Downs and Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park, the latter of which saw a career-best 101 Beyer Speed Figure.
“He’ll probably make his debut at Belmont in May in an allowance,” Joseph, Jr. said.
Bred in New York by Brian Culnan, Ny Traffic is owned by John Fanelli, Cash Is King Racing, LC Racing, Paul Braverman and Team Hanley.
Joseph, Jr. also reported that last Saturday’s graded stakes heroes Drain the Clock and Mischevious Alex have shipped back to their South Florida base in good order and will be back for more stakes prosperity at the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.
Drain the Clock, owned by Slam Dunk Racing, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Michael Nentwig, captured the Grade 3 Bay Shore going seven furlongs and eyes the Grade 1, $400,000 Woody Stephens at seven furlongs on June 5.
Cash Is King and LC Racing’s Mischevious Alex, winner of the Grade 1 Carter Handicap, could return for the Grade 1, $1 million Metropolitan Handicap on June 5.
“They’ll both get an easy seven to ten days and it looks like both will target Belmont day,” Joseph, Jr, said.