04/22/2012 3:19PM

2012 Kentucky Derby: Isn't He Clever joins Asmussen, still possible for Derby

Lisa Dominguez/Coady Photography
Isn't He Clever, formerly trained by Henry Dominguez, has been transferred to Steve Asmussen's barn at Churchill Downs.

Isn’t He Clever, the winner of the Borderland Derby at Sunland Park in February, has been transferred from trainer Henry Dominguez to Steve Asmussen, owner J. Kirk Robison told Churchill Downs publicity staff on Sunday.

Isn’t He Clever is currently based at Churchill Downs with Asmussen and is being considered for the Kentucky Derby. Isn’t He Clever finished eighth behind Kentucky Derby hopeful Bodemeister in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 14 in his most recent start for the New Mexico-based Dominguez.

A gelding by Smarty Jones, Isn’t He Clever has won 4 of 8 starts and $395,293. In late March, Isn’t He Clever finished second in the Grade 3 Sunland Park Derby in New Mexico behind the Asmussen-trained Daddy Nose Best.

In a statement released by Churchill Downs, Robison said Isn’t He Clever was transferred to Asmussen because of a larger number of racing opportunities for 3-year-olds in Kentucky and the East compared with New Mexico.

“We’ve evaluating our options,” Robison said of the Kentucky Derby.

“The Derby is still under consideration, but I’ve always said I would never enter the Derby if I didn’t think the horse would be competitive.”

Isn’t He Clever has $191,333 in graded stakes earnings, leaving him 22nd on that list.

The Kentucky Derby has a maximum field of 20 horses. If the race oversubscribes, the top 20 horses who were nominated to the race secure a berth. Hero of Order, who won the Louisiana Derby and has $617,375 in graded stakes earnings, must be supplemented at time of entry, and cannot replace a horse who was nominated in January or March.


st More than 1 year ago
Once a trainer has 150k in graded earnings, all bets are off on how much there horse actually tries in prep races
st More than 1 year ago
by horse (the connections and trainers)
ALEJANDRO ANZA More than 1 year ago
i don't understand what the people think mind that bird was a fluke,he won the kentucky derby by six!!! lost the preakness against the filly because a trouble trip and in the belmont, his rider move him way too soon and finish close third,he had a solid two year old campaign in canada too,i know he never ran a good race after that but many good horses do the same thing ,why people do not have the same kind of opinion with super saver,that horse was a fluke for me.
Vin More than 1 year ago
brcause he never won another race
Jason Hart More than 1 year ago
Alejandro..... MTB was not a fluke. Just a perfect example of why horses enter the big one even if it looks like they don't have much of a shot to hit the board. Anything can happen in the derby. If a horse has enough earnings and is sound, I say run em!!!
OwenJ More than 1 year ago
Asmussen is a shrewd trainer and I am sure he will advise the owners of Isn't He Clever of easier opportunities later in the year. I hate to see owners/trainers ruin good horses by misplacing them. Isn't He Clever has as much chance of running even fifth in the Derby as I (a Jamaican) have of becoming President of the USA! So far I haven't seen anything to change my selection of Creative Cause as the probable winner of the Derby.
Kevin Potts More than 1 year ago
Lmao @ owners who say they wouldn't enter if they didn't think they had a chance.
Nicholas Carraway More than 1 year ago
Oh yes--8th by 18 lengths in the Arkansas Derby is the ticket to Churchill Downs for the first Saturday in May. Forget the "unraced as a 2-year-old" Bodemeister and the ghost of Apollo, has a Ky Derby winner EVER had such a bad race before the big day?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You're right, Nicholas, no they have not. Annie
Jason Hart More than 1 year ago
Nicholas......... I don't think this horse has much of a shot either. However, stranger things have happened. Did Charismatic or Mine That Bird belong really belong in the derby? Nope....... And they both won it. Forget the 18 length defeat. Robbie knew the horse was beat that day and he wrapped him up to take care of him. Sea Hero got beat by nearly 13 lengths three months before the derby in a G3! But he got it done on the first Saturday in May. My point is, if a horse earns the right to be there, there is always a chance.
Nicholas Carraway More than 1 year ago
Jason, I meant to say (imperfectly) that a horse doesn't rebound from a horrible *last* prep. Charismatic won the Lexington Stakes (with a big BSF) and Sea Hero, as I recall, was a close fourth with some tough luck in the stretch of the Blue Grass. As for Mine That Bird . . . well, I guess he's the argument in all of these types of debates :-) (but his last race wasn't bad, and he nearly won his next to last race).
Jason Hart More than 1 year ago
I understand. And like I said, he may not have much of a shot, but he's earned it if he gets in. Nobody was gonna catch Bode in the Arkansas Derby and since he won by 9 1/2, it probably was a wise choice for Robbie to gear IHC down rather than whip and slash to get beat by only 10. Especially since there was still a chance for IHC to get in without making a dime in the Arkansas Derby. We'll see. I enjoy watching the derby because anything can happen.
Dean More than 1 year ago
Anything Asmussen has been sending out regardless of form or class has been running he is as hot as they come and regardless of price has a punchers chance to grab the roses...Great move by owners regardless of what happens! PS if he does not move prematurely he wins the Sunland Derby easssssyyyyy!!! Still 50-1+ bit worth a look
Peter May More than 1 year ago
Nicholas, Maybe Asmussen can bring some magic out of him. I was so disappointed in Isn't he Clever's Arkansas Derby run. Yeah... Bodemeister obliterated everyone. But Isn't he Clever ran such a monster race in the Sunland Derby (with a bad ride to boot... he was moved so irresponsibly early in that race) that if he can run something close to that effort he'll be a lot more competitive. I know the owner says that if he doesn't think he has a chance he won't run him, but you don't transfer him to Asmussen and base him at Churchill if you're not planning on running him (if there's 1 more defection, injury, whatever). If he makes the field, I'll include him on my deeper exotic tickets just to have a price play in there.