Amsterdam S. (G2) – Race 9 (5:39 p.m. ET)
Drain the Clock upset a game Jackie’s Warrior in the June 5 Woody Stephens (G1) on Belmont Day, but the beaten favorite’s trouble arguably contributed to the result. Now the two will try to settle that lingering question in their rematch in Sunday’s $200,000 Amsterdam S. (G2) at Saratoga. The 6 1/2-furlong sprint serves as a stepping stone to the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) on Travers Day.
Jackie’s Warrior had been unbeaten around one turn going into the Woody Stephens, including sensational wins last term in the Hopeful (G1), Saratoga Special (G2), and Champagne (G1), as well as a hard-fought decision in the May 1 Pat Day Mile (G2).
The Steve Asmussen trainee tried mightily again as the 1.05-1 favorite in the Woody Stephens, but a chain-reaction bump at the break proved costly. Last in the opening strides as a result, Jackie’s Warrior exerted more energy to speed to the lead, and that told late. The persistent Drain the Clock ultimately wore him down by a neck.
Still, Drain the Clock was much better than his 7.50-1 odds implied. Indeed, his profile was roughly similar to Jackie’s Warrior. He too is a son of Maclean’s Music with a stellar record in sprints, albeit at a lesser level.
Trained by Saffie Joseph, Drain the Clock had crushed the Limehouse S. and Swale S. (G3) at Gulfstream Park before successfully invading Aqueduct for the Bay Shore S. (G3). Also like Jackie’s Warrior, he attempted to stretch out for a Kentucky Derby (G1) points race and found his stamina limits exposed. Drain the Clock was runner-up in the Fountain of Youth (G2), while Jackie’s Warrior was fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and third in the Southwest (G3).
“Most of his one-turn races were won in hand,” Joseph said of Drain the Clock. “He was basically geared down the last sixteenth in the Bay Shore. We always thought he had more to give but until you see it you don’t know for sure, and the Woody Stephens was definitely his breakout race. He earned his respect that day and beat a game horse in Jackie’s Warrior. He’s in good form and I think he’s going over there with a really good chance.
“We tried two turns once and he ran credibly, but one turn is his niche and what he does best.”
The rivals drew the same posts as in the Woody Stephens – Drain the Clock in post 2 and Jackie’s Warrior in post 3. That was no help to Jackie’s Warrior after the start, and he wound up rushing up on the rail, leaving the tactically advantageous outside path to Drain the Clock.
Aside from a clean break, the venue change could benefit Jackie’s Warrior, who’s 2-for-2 at the Spa. If he can rebound, he’d bring Asmussen closer to breaking the all-time North American win record.
Further intrigue is provided by Crowded Trade from the Chad Brown barn. A sharp debut winner sprinting at Aqueduct, he reverts to one turn for the first time since his photo-finish loss in the Gotham (G3). Crowded Trade had since placed third in the Wood Memorial (G2) and tired to fifth in the Preakness S. (G1), underscoring his penchant for shorter distances.
Undefeated River Dog brandishes a 2-for-2 record versus fellow New York-breds. The Jeremiah Englehart sophomore faces his stiffest class test, but his Brisnet Speed ratings – a 100 in his Belmont Park debut and a 97 in the May 31 Mike Lee – imply he can hold his own. River Dog needs to work out a trip on the rail though.
Flash of Mischief ships in for Karl Broberg after a productive stint at Prairie Meadows, where he won the six-furlong Golden Circle S., missed narrowly in the Prairie Mile, and finished further back in second in the Iowa Derby. The cutback to 6 1/2 furlongs suits him on paper, but he needs to up his game. That point applies even more so to Antonio Sano’s Mister Luigi, who makes an ambitious stakes debut off a Gulfstream allowance fourth.