01/15/2009 12:00AM

Clear Cut tries to stay perfect on Polytrack


Last month, owner G. Watts Humphrey Jr., trainer Rusty Arnold, and jockey Bill Troilo teamed to win the Gowell Stakes at Turfway Park with Step Out Smartly.

Four weeks later in Saturday's $50,000 Cincinnati Trophy Stakes at Turfway, these connections are seeking another stakes victory against similar opposition, albeit with a different young filly - Clear Cut.

"Hopefully, she fills her shoes well," Arnold said Thursday.

Clear Cut, a daughter of Forestry out of the stakes-winning mare Clear Destiny, is not likely of the same quality of Step Out Smartly, who is now with Arnold's first string in south Florida. But she still looms a major factor in the Cincinnati Trophy, if for no other reason than she is 2 for 2 racing on Polytrack, compared to her 0-0-1 record in 3 starts on dirt tracks.

Besides a 2 1/4-length victory in a maiden $80,000 claiming race at Keeneland at seven furlongs in October, Clear Cut bravely won a first-level allowance over the Turfway Park Polytrack strip Dec. 28, with a seventh-place finish on dirt at Churchill Downs sandwiched in between.

Arnold called her Churchill Downs race "disastrous" - a fair description of a race in which she failed to beat a horse.

Her win at Turfway was significantly better, although she earned just a 65 Beyer Speed Figure. In tight early, she was shuffled back to sixth after a quarter-mile, taking synthetic kickback in her face. Rather than get discouraged, she picked up her pace, advancing up the inside under Troilo and outgaming the opposition to post a half-length victory going six furlongs.

She will likely have to run faster to win the Cincinnati Trophy but is eligible to do so with a cleaner trip. Stretching out to 6o1/2 furlongs should further benefit her.

The likely favorite in the Cincinnati Trophy, which drew 12 3-year-old fillies plus two also-eligibles, is Emma Darling, who rallied for third in the Gowell despite stumbling at the start and racing wide.

Previously, she had won a Nov. 29 allowance at Churchill Downs for trainer Mike Maker and owner Thomas Conway, finishing 12 1/4 lengths in front of Clear Cut in mile race over dirt.

Emma Darling is one of just two fillies in the field to hit the board in a stakes race, with the other being Saxxy Rose Lee, who ran third in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies at Turfway and Showtime Debutante at Hawthorne before finishing sixth in the Gowell.

Saxxy Rose Lee was also entered in a first-level allowance with a $50,000 claiming condition Sunday at Turfway.