Overbrook Fam's hard-knocking Clock Stopper ended an eight-race losing streak Saturday when he surprised a quality field of sprinters in the $424,900 Commonwealth Breeders' Cup (gr. II) at Keeneland.
Jerry Bailey notched his second graded stakes win of the day at Keeneland, guiding Clock Stopper from behind to pass the stubborn pacesetter Gators N Bears and inch away to victory by three-quarters of a length in the seven-furlong sprint. The final time was 1:22.
Silver Wagon finished third. The three favorites in the race, Sir Shackleton, the 8-5 choice, and Lion Tamer (2-1) and Cajun Beat (7-2) ran fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively. Cajun Beat was vanned off after suffering a hind leg injury.
Bailey won the Shakertown (gr. IIIT) earlier on the card with favored Soaring Free.
Clock Stopper, a 5-year-old Gilded Time
gelding trained by Dallas Stewart, had not won since taking an optional claiming/allowance race at Churchill Downs June 9. He had four second-place finishes and three shows in his eight-race drought, seven of which were in graded stakes opposition.
"He runs hard every time," Stewart said. "Today was his day."
Clock Stopper broke unusually well but fell back and had just one horse beaten down the backstretch, Lion Tamer, who broke in the air and spotted the field 10 lengths early. But Bailey moved the chestnut up gradually going into the turn, and they were in contention in the stretch, two lengths behind as they chased Gators N Bears. Clock Stopper won under consistent left-handed urging.
"He broke better today and didn't give himself so much to do," Bailey said. "He does get to loafing a bit. He's never made the lead for very long."
Gators N Bears., with Charles Lopez aboard, set a solid pace of :22 1/5 and :44 4/5 and 1:09 3/5, was reluctant to give up the lead when collared near the eighth pole, fighting back along the inside all the way to the finish.
It was a strong effort by the runner-up in his first start since finishing third in he General George Handicap (gr. II) at Laurel nearly two months ago.
"I didn't make it easy on him but he ran his heart out," Lopez said.
Silver Wagon, ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, was blocked briefly along the inside and finished 2 3/4 lengths farther back in third.
Clock Stopper, who won for the sixth time in 20 lifetime starts, paid $11.60, $5.60 and $3.60. Gators N Bears returned $7.20 and $4.80. Silver Wagon's show was $5.40. The exacta was worth $80.40.
Clock Stopper earned $263,438 for the victory and has banked $779,524.