Uphill Stable's Clearly Now returned to his winning ways when he skillfully stalked the pace to score a 1 1/2-length triumph in the $200,000 Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III) Oct. 26 at Belmont Park (VIDEO).
Trained by Brian Lynch, Clearly Now has also placed in six stakes, including this year's Gallant Bob (gr. III), Bay Shore (gr. III), Woody Stephens (gr. II), and Holy Bull (gr. II).
"He was on the verge of winning one of these races and today he put it all together, so it was great," said Lynch. "Admittedly at Parx Racing the other day (in the Gallant Bob), he was on the worst part of the track, but we thought if we could adjust something to get him to switch (leads), it would make a difference. We started breezing him in blinkers and you could just see that that was the ticket.
"Today, Jose (Lezcano) gave him a great ride. We'll give him a bit of a break. He's had a great 3-year-old campaign and we look forward to ringing in the New Year."
Clearly Now, bred in Kentucky by Claiborne Farm, is out of the Arch mare Bend. He was a $30,000 purchase at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale.
In the Bold Ruler, 7-2 shot Clearly Now sat in striking position for Lezcano in second throughout the majority of the seven-furlong contest, while 6-5 favorite Strapping Groom, ridden by Junior Alvarado, set early fractions of :22.9 and :45.49 while opening a 2 1/2-length advantage. Clearly Now made his move in mid-stretch, taking the lead over Strapping Groom, who faded badly in the stretch.
"He broke good and had us in good position," said Lezcano. "When I asked him to run, he took off. He came with a good race today."
Added Alvarado of Strapping Groom's ride: "No excuse for him. He broke good and was on the lead. I never had pressure from anybody. I waited for as long as I could, and when I asked him he didn't kick."
Forty Tales (5-2), who raced in third into the streetch, rallied for the place position, 4 3/4 lengths ahead of 16-1 shot Saturday's Charm, who checked in third. Strapping Groom, Big Screen, and Politicallycorrect completed the order of finish.
Clearly Now paid $9.80, $4.50, and $3.40, while Forty Tales returned $3.70 and $3.30 to place, and Saturday's Charm paid $4.70 to show.
Never worse than third in 10 lifetime starts, Clearly Now picked up his fourth lifetime win and boosted his earnings to $508,236.