02/28/2013 5:02PM

Gulfstream Park: Swale looks like good spot for Clearly Now


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – After finding Itsmyluckyday and 2-year-old champion Shanghai Bobby a little too much to handle going two turns making his 3-year-old debut in the Grade 3 Holy Bull, Clearly Now will get both distance and class relief when he turns back to seven furlongs for Saturday’s $150,000 Swale.

The Grade 2 Swale drew a full field of 13 3-year-old colts and geldings, although at least one member of the prospective lineup, Merit Man, is expected to scratch. The Swale highlights a 12-race program at Gulfstream Park that also includes the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride for 3-year-old fillies on the turf.

[SWALE STAKES: Get PPs, watch video handicapping previews]

Clearly Now was making his first start on dirt when he finished a tiring third after pressing the pace to the stretch in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull on Jan. 26. The first two finishers from that race are currently ranked third and fourth in Daily Racing Form’s Derby Watch.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

The outing was the first at 3 for Clearly Now, a son of Horse Greeley, who won his first two career starts going six furlongs before closing out his 2-year-old campaign finishing third after contesting the pace to midstretch in the 1 1/16-mile Display. All three of his juvenile starts came over the synthetic surface at Woodbine.

“I just don’t think he’s ready for two turns against the kind of horses he would have to face down here this winter,” said Brian Lynch, who trains Clearly Now for the Up Hill Stable. “Maybe he’ll stretch out when we go back to Toronto and matures a little later this year. In the meantime, turning back to seven furlongs for this race will be ideal for him.”

Forty Tales is strictly the one to beat in the Swale after finishing an unlucky second in the seven-furlong, Grade 2 Hutcheson in his local debut on Feb. 2. Forty Tales, an impressive winner of his first two starts at Aqueduct and Parx for trainer Todd Pletcher, checked back to last after breaking from the rail in the Hutcheson and appear to be struggle racing along the inside during the early stages of the race before finishing full of run once angling outside at the top of the stretch.

Forty Tales, who ran a second straight career-best 93 Beyer Speed Figure in the Hutcheson, was well drawn in post position 10 for the Swale.

“Hopefully the outside post will make a little bit of a difference,” said Pletcher. “He didn’t need much of a difference last time. Considering how difficult it is to win from the one post anywhere, particularly at Gulfstream, where the kickback can be pretty abrasive, I thought the horse ran a huge race in the Hutcheson. He never stopped trying and was getting to the winner at the end.”

Undrafted, owned by the New England Patriots’ star wide receiver Wes Welker, is the one who will have to deal with the inside post in the Swale. Undrafted forced the pace, made the lead in early stretch before succumbing grudgingly in the shadow of the wire to finish third, a nose behind Forty Tales, in the Hutcheson.

Gombey Dancer posted the highest last-race Beyer of any horse in the Swale, a 94, for his three-length maiden win going six furlongs here on Feb. 3.

Little Distorted has failed to live up to expectations since being purchased for a reported seven figures after upsetting Revolutionary in his debut last spring at Belmont Park. Little Distorted will make his first start since being transferred to trainer Marty Wolfson’s barn after being a beaten favorite in each of his two 3-year-old starts earlier in the meet.

Are You Kidding Me will try dirt for the first time making his 3-year-old debut and first start since finishing fifth in Keeneland’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity on Oct. 6.

“It’s time to get him started,” said trainer Roger Attfield. “He had some poor racing luck in some of his races last year, including the Breeders’ Futurity when he didn’t get a clean run. He missed a little time after getting sick up here, but he’s over that and has done very well training since then.”