Drain the Clock gamely wore down even-money favorite Jackie’s Warrior in Saturday’s $400,000 Woody Stephens (G1), prevailing by a neck in the thrilling seven-furlong contest for three-year-olds on the Belmont Stakes Day undercard.
With Irad Ortiz Jr. temporarily sidelined, Jose Ortiz replaced his brother aboard the Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained colt. The chestnut son of Maclean’s Music is campaigned Slam Dunk Racing, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables, and Michael Nentwig.
Drain the Clock was overlooked as the 7-1 fourth choice among six rivals, and he stopped the teletimer in 1:22.27.
“It’s great for racing,” Ortiz said of the close finish. “That’s what it’s all about, people want to come here to see those kinds of duels. It was a great race, everybody gave their best. I’m just happy we came out with the win and I’m happy filling in for Irad and not messing it up. He told me the horse was very classy, Saffie was great, and the owner was great, too.”
After breaking on top, Drain the Clock conceded the early advantage to Jackie’s Warrior, who rushed forward to seize the advantage following a troubled start.
Both runners traveled well off the rail the rest of the way, with Jackie’s Warrior leading by a half-length through opening splits in :22.10 and :44.19 as Drain the Clock pressed in second.
Despite being floated out wider in midstretch, Drain the Clock determinedly rallied to narrowly prove best in the final stages.
“If (Joel) Rosario (aboard Jackie’s Warrior) wanted the lead, I’d rather have him rush inside of me,” Ortiz said. “It was my game plan to break better, outrun him out of the gate in the first couple jumps and go as far out as I could, as long as I was clear. I wasn’t planning to mess with anybody; you can see as soon as Rosario came back in, I came back in. I didn’t want him outside of me putting pressure on me the whole way.”
“(Jackie’s Warrior) just kind of stumbled a little bit coming out of the gate and missed the break,” Rosario said of the slow start. “Then he went and did his best, but I think the break out of the gate was the key. He still ran his race.”
Jackie’s Warrior held second by 7 1/4 lengths over 11-1 Nova Rags. Dream Shake, Tulane Tryst, and Caddo River completed the order of finish.
Now a four-time stakes victor, Drain the Clock was exiting a convincing win in the April 3 Bay Shore (G3) at Aqueduct. The talented sprinter also romped in the Swale (G3) earlier this season, and he managed a respectable second when trying two turns in the Fountain of Youth S. (G2).
Bred in Kentucky by Nick Cosato, Drain the Clock has now earned $711,550 from an 8-6-1-0 record.