Irad Ortiz Jr. guides Drain the Clock to victory in the Bay Shore
After establishing himself as one of the top 3-year-old sprinters in the country last year, Drain the Clock is scheduled to make his 2022 debut in Saturday’s $150,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
“I think he’s going to come back better. All indications point that way. He’s filled out. He’s trained lights out,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. “He obviously had a good 3-year-old season. Even if he came back as good, you’d be happy, but I think he’ll come back better. Every indication so far is that he’s a better horse than he was. That’s a good sign.”
Slam Dunk Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Wonder Stables and Michael Nentwig’s Grade 1-stakes winner is expected to receive a stern test in his return to action in the six-furlong sprint, in which the son of Maclean’s Music will be challenged by multiple-stakes winner Diamond Oops and four other older horses.
Drain the Clock has won four of five starts at Gulfstream, his only loss coming in a second-place finish in last year’s 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth (G2). The Kentucky-bred colt, who won the six-furlong Limehouse and seven-furlong Swale (G3) prior to the Fountain of Youth, went on to win the Bay Shore (G3) at Aqueduct and Woody Stephens (G1) at Belmont Park. After beating heavily favored Jackie’s Warrior in the Woody Stephens, Drain the Clock finished second behind the eventual Eclipse Award-winning sprinter in the Amsterdam (G2) at Saratoga. He went to the sidelines for a freshening after finishing fourth behind Jackie’s Warrior in the Aug. 28 H. Allen Jerkens (G1) at Saratoga.
The Joseph trainee capped his terrific sophomore campaign with a sharp optional claiming allowance win Dec. 10 at Gulfstream Park while coming off a 3 ½-month layoff. He set a swift early pace while being pressed throughout by Gatsby before hanging tough to win by a half-length for six furlongs.
“I thought he was really gutsy in that race. He got hooked by Gatsby the whole way and was tenacious enough to hold him off. Gatsby came back to win the Sunshine Sprint,” Joseph said. “I think since that race he’s done even better. He’s training super. We’ve had a good preparation so far.”
Drain the Clock, who has registered bullet workouts at a half-mile and five furlongs in preparation for the Gulfstream Park Sprint, could be a steppingstone to either the March 26 Al Quoz Sprint (G1) or the April 9 Carter (G1) at Aqueduct.
“The Carter is in play, but if he goes well here, I think we’re going to go to Dubai with him,” Joseph said.
The six-furlong Al Quoz (G1) is on the undercard of Dubai World Cup (G1).
Irad Ortiz Jr. has the mount aboard Drain the Clock.
Diamond Oops also brings multiple graded stakes-winning credentials into the Gulfstream Park Sprint, as well as an affinity for the Gulfstream racing surface. The 7-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky, a Grade 2 winner on turf and dirt, is scheduled to make his 2022 debut Saturday and his first start since finishing off the board in the Oct. 9 Keeneland Turf Mile (G1).
“Last October, we sent him on vacation for eight weeks and he came back fresh and happy. He’s re-entered the breezing program,” trainer Patrick Biancone said. “He may not be coming into the race at 100 percent but he’s coming into it well enough to run a good race.”
Diamond Oops has become an enduring star while amassing earnings of more than $1.3 million in five years of racing for Diamond 100 Racing Club LLC, Amy Dunne, D P Racing LLC, and Patrick Biancone Racing.
“I think the main reason is that we don’t over-run him. Last year, we ran him four or five times and the year before, the same thing,” Biancone said. “We run him when he’s ready to perform and then we give him time. My partners are very patient. When he doesn’t perform up to what he should do, we give him a vacation. We let him be a horse, and we’re rewarded because of that.”
In addition to winning Grade 2 stakes on turf and dirt, Diamond Oops is also Grade 1 stakes-placed on both surfaces.
Romero Maragh is scheduled to ride Diamond Oops for the first time.
David Melin, Leon Ellman and Laurie Plesa’s Miles Ahead also brings graded-stakes credentials into the Gulfstream Park Sprint. The 5-year-old gelded son of Competitive Edge, who captured the Smile Sprint (G3) on last summer’s Summit of Speed program, has won nine of 18 starts at Gulfstream, including scores in the Dec. 4 Claiming Crown Rapid Transit and a Jan. 16 starter optional claiming allowance in his two most recent outings.
Paco Lopez has the return call aboard Eddie Plesa Jr.-trained Miles Ahead.
Arindel’s Gatsby, who made Drain the Clock earn his victory in his 2021 finale, is scheduled to return in the Gulfstream Turf Sprint. The 4-year-old gelded son of Brethren, who pulled off an upset over Golden Pal in his April 2020 debut, came back to win the Jan. 15 Sunshine Sprint for Florida-breds by 1 ½ lengths.
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano is slated to ride Carlos David-trained Gatsby for the first time Saturday.
Russell Staggs’ Doc Amster, who recorded a victory over Gatsby in November before finishing second to the Arindel-bred gelding last time out; and Maribeth Sanford and Lynch Racing LLC’s Francatelli, who won the Rumson at Monmouth two starts back; are also entered in the Gulfstream Park Sprint.