ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 22, 2015)–John Sadler’s Sweet Swap and Phil D’Amato’s Lil Bit O’Fun head a competitive field of 12 older horses set to in Sunday’s $75,000 Clockers’ Corner Stakes for older horses at 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s Camino Real Turf Course.
The 6-5 favorite in the Grade III, 6 ½ furlongs turf Daytona Stakes on Dec. 28, Sweet Swap pressed the pace and made the lead at the top of the stretch but tired late, finishing third, a length and a half behind Lil Bit O’Fun, who ran second at 4-1.
Fifth, beaten one length three starts back down the hill in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, Sweet Swap won the Grade III San Simeon Stakes down the hillside four races back on April 13, 2014 and is 10-4-2-2 lifetime over the course–and thus, will likely be favored again in the Clockers’ Corner.
Owned by Hronis Racing, LLC, the 6-year-old horse by Candy Ride is 15-6-3-2 overall with earnings of $342,133. Sweet Swap was bred in Kentucky and is out of the Storm Cat mare Fair Exchange.
Officially trained by D’Amato in his last six starts subsequent to the retirement of Mike Mitchell, Lil Bit O’Fun rallied from off the pace in the Daytona to miss by a half length. A 7-year-old gelding by Langfuhr, he is 4-2-1-1 down the hill and is 36-7-6-2 overall with earnings of $425,273. Owned by Belmonte, Cohen, Gorman and Sterling Stables, he comes off a productive 2014, in which he won two races from six starts and earned $124,000.
D’Amato will also be represented by Hay Dude, who has run well in three consecutive turf miles dating back to Oct. 26, his U.S. debut. A first-out maiden winner going 7 ½ furlongs on turf in September, 2012, the 5-year-old English-bred gelding owned by Anthony Fanticola and Joe Scardino hasn’t sprinted since his fourth career start in England on April 19, 2013. Hay Dude has an overall mark of 15-3-3-4 and earnings of $99,589.
A minor stakes winner over the course, Doug O’Neill’s Pure Tactics cuts back in distance as he pressed the pace and tired to finish sixth, beaten four lengths, in the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles Seabiscuit Handicap at Del Mar on Nov. 28. Owned by Nita Winner, LLC, Pure Tactics is a 6-year-old Texas-bred horse who first came to O’Neill from Fairgrounds in New Orleans eight starts back on Feb. 23, 2014. He has subsequently has a win from five starts down the hill and is 20-8-2-2 overall with earnings of $313,856.
Bolita Boyz will make his third start for leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer in the Clockers’ Corner and must be a accorded an upset chance. Well beaten in the Grade III, 6 ½ furlong Midnight Lute Stakes on dirt Dec. 27, he was an even fifth, beaten 4 ¾ lengths, in a minor stakes down the hillside turf on Oct. 19. Owned by Gatto, GZS Stables, LLC, Schlaich and Hollendorfer, the 4-year-old Florida-bred colt by Act of Duty is winless in two tries on turf, but is 10-4-0-1 overall with earnings of $158,061.
Although a well beaten ninth in the Grade III Daytona Stakes Dec. 28, millionaire Clubhouse Ride does have a win, a second and a third from six lifetime tries down the hill and the veteran campaigner can never be counted out. Trained by Craig Lewis and owned by Six-S Racing Stable and Niko Petralia, the 7-year-old horse by Candy Ride is 41-5-9-10 overall, with earnings of $1,320,882.
The complete field for the Clockers’ Corner Stakes, to be run as the eighth race on a nine-race program Sunday, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Lil Bit O’Fun, Rafael Bejarano, 124; Ankeny Hill, Edwin Maldonado, 124; Bolita Boyz, Gary Stevens, 124; Mr. Commons, Victor Espinoza, 119; Sweet Swap, Joe Talamo, 124; Pure Tactics, Mike Smith, 124; Clubhouse Ride, Aaron Gryder, 124; Hay Dude, Kent Desormeaux, 119; Forever Juanito, Tyler Baze, 124; Bahamian Squall, Corey Nakatani, 119, and Heir of Storm, Drayden Van Dyke, 124 (alt.). ALSO ELIGIBLE: Fly Lexis Fly, Elvis Trujillo, 119.