The sophomore son of Horse Greeley turned back in distance from his 3-year-old debut in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull Jan. 26 to get the Swale in a final time of 1:23.19 over the fast track, finishing 1 3/4 lengths ahead of 50-1 shot Singanothersong. Undrafted, owned by New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, was third, while even-money favorite Forty Tales checked in fifth.
"The turn back in distance worked out very well," trainer Brian Lynch said of Clearly Now's run. "He bobbled a little at the start which may have been a blessing in disguise. Luis (Saez) gave him a great ride and didn't rush him. Then he finished up strong."
Clearly Now settled mid-pack in a field of 11 for Saez while Singanothersong dueled for the lead with Tulira Castle through opening fractions of :23.19 and :46.28. After rating kindly in fifth down the backstretch and following three-quarters in 1:10.40, he rallied around horses and edged clear on the outside to score.
"We had a little trouble at the half-mile pole" Saez said. "When I took him out he was flying. I like this horse a lot. I knew I had a good chance from his last race. He finished third last time running against Itsmyluckyday and he needed that race, so I knew he'd do well today."
The Kentucky-bred colt won his first two starts sprinting at Woodbine in Canada last year before a third-place try in the Display Stakes racing a distance for the first time Dec. 1. Lynch said options abound.
"With a 3-year-old you're always tempted to think of the big races," the trainer said. "We'll see how he comes out of it and talk about what's next. If we decide to try him long again, the (March 30) Florida Derby (gr. I) is here and would be a possibility. Who knows? He might turn out to be a top turf miler. We'll see."
Bred by Claiborne Farm out of the Arch mare Bend, Clearly Now was a $30,000 purchase at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale when Ron Fleishman, agent, signed the ticket. He now has three wins and two seconds from five starts, with earnings of $214,598.