07/04/2012 5:26PM

Belmont Park: Clear Attempt pays off in Poker Stakes

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Clear Attempt, with Jose Lezcano up, wins the Grade 3 Poker Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Bill Mott said he had no choice but to run Clear Attempt in Wednesday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Poker Stakes at Belmont Park.

“They forced me to do it,” Mott said, referring to the racing office. “The allowance races haven’t filled. So I said let me nominate to this. It wasn’t an impressive [field]. We took a shot.”

The shot paid off big as Clear Attempt, running in his first stakes races, tackled the pacesetting Yield Bogey in midstretch and won the Poker by 1 3/4 lengths over even-money favorite Compliance Officer. It was a half-length back to Yield Bogey in third.

Boots Ahead, Right One, Voodoo Storm, and Gourmet Dinner completed the order of finish.

While it was the first stakes victory for Clear Attempt, it was the third Poker triumph for Mott. He won this race last year with Courageous Cat for the same people – Pam and Marty Wygod – who own Clear Attempt. Mott also won this race in 1998 with Elusive Quality, who set Belmont’s Widener Turf course record of 1:31.63 winning the Poker.

Clear Attempt didn’t run quite that fast – his final time was 1:34.01 – but as Mott noted, “he ran fast enough.”

Under Jose Lezcano, Clear Attempt raced in second position while Yield Bogey, under Edgar Prado, set factions of 24.78 seconds for the quarter and 48.12 for the half-mile.

Clear Attempt and Compliance Officer, under Javier Castellano, moved toward Yield Bogey early into the far turn, but Yield Bogey initially repelled the challenge.

Lezcano persevered on Clear Attempt, and he eventually reeled in Yield Bogey just above the eighth pole. He returned $19.80 to win.

“He broke very good, he was very comfortable, he didn’t pull me,” Lezcano said. “When the favorite moved outside of me, I let him go with him and I waited to the quarter pole to really ask him and make him finish. He gave me a good kick when I really asked him.”

Compliance Officer had won seven of his last eight races since being claimed 14 months ago. Bruce Brown, the trainer of Compliance Officer, offered no excuses.

“I thought that he was moving a little soon, but he moved with the winner,” Brown said. “I think you just have to say he was second best today. I think the winner ran a big race, and we just never could get to him.”