Pam and Martin Wygod's Clear Attempt stalked a leisurely early pace and rolled home a winner in the $150,000 Poker Stakes (gr. IIIT) July 4 at Belmont Park, giving Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and the owners consecutive victories in the one-mile turf event (VIDEO).
Mott and the Wygods won the 2011 Poker with Courageous Cat , and decided to enter Clear Attempt even though he was eligible for a second-level allowance. The 4-year-old homebred son of A.P. Indy rewarded their confidence with a 1 3/4-length score at odds of nearly 9-1.
Jockey Jose Lezcano kept Clear Attempt second behind frontrunning 15-1 shot Yield Bogey in the early going, as that one opened up a four-length advantage on the field while walking six other runners through a quarter in :24.78. Even-money favorite Compliance Officer was three-wide in pursuit in third, and pushed up the pressure after a half in :48.12. Those two loomed down on the pacesetter, who still had a one-length lead for three-quarters in 1:11.12 but lost it soon after.
"When the favorite moved outside, I moved with him and I kept waiting until the quarter pole to really ask," Lezcano said. "When I asked him, he gave me a good kick and finished good."
Clear Attempt took control by half a length heading in the stretch and widened away to his first stakes score. Compliance Officer closed for second, a half-length in front of Yield Bogey in third.
Clear Attempt came into the Poker off a runner-up finish by a nose in a 1 1/8-mile turf event at Belmont May 18. He hadn't won since a turf allowance score going the same distance at Churchill Downs Nov. 2.
"This race wasn't setting up to be terribly, terribly tough, and cutting him back a little bit seemed like the thing to do," said Mott's assistant, Leanna Willaford. "Bill just takes his time (but) we've always liked this horse. He's been one we aspired to win a stakes with."
Clear Attempt paid $19.80, $6.10, and $4, while Compliance Officer paid $3 and $2.50 and Yield Bogey returned $5.60. Boots Ahead, Right One, Voodoo Storm, and Gourmet Dinner completed the order of finish.
El Commodore, Monument Hill, and Queen'splatekitten scratched to run in the Red Bank Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Monmouth Park, and Isn't He Perfect and Uncle T Seven were entered for the main track only.
A Kentucky homebred out of the Benchmark mare Silent Sighs, Clear Attempt now has a 3-4-1 record from 11 starts, with earnings of $197,902.