07/12/2012 12:10PM

Monmouth Park: Isn't He Clever shortens up to six furlongs in Jersey Shore Stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Isn’t He Clever shortens up and drops in class for the Jersey Shore Stakes.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – Isn’t He Clever is the most accomplished stakes runner in the Grade 3, $100,000 Jersey Shore for 3-year-old sprinters on Saturday at Monmouth Park. But that doesn’t make him a lock against five rivals.

A recent addition to the Steve Asmussen barn, Isn’t He Clever ran well at shorter distances early in his career, including a victory in the 6 1/2-furlong Riley Allison Futurity to conclude his 2-year-old campaign at Sunland Park.

He also has some success stretching out, winning the Borderland Derby before finishing second in the Sunland Park Derby.

Isn’t He Clever was outrun in his next two stakes: the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby and the Woody Stephens at seven furlongs on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

Now comes an opportunity to regroup with a cutback to six furlongs, and much softer competition.

Mike Luzzi will be aboard for the first time.

The Monmouth racing office worked hard to put this race together. Of the 11 nominations, only four turned up in the entry box on Wednesday. Rass Stone and Cape Cod Canal were supplemented for $5,000 each to bring the field up to six.

Wildcat Creek shows a consistent pattern of improvement at the meet for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. He was third, followed by a second and then a win in his latest outing. He is a half-brother to multiple graded stakes winner Pomeroys Pistol.

Cape Cod Canal is the least experienced runner, and will be making only his third start while stepping up from a maiden victory for leading trainer Jane Cibelli.

“I was looking for a one-other-than but that didn’t go,” Cibelli said. “With the stakes coming up with a short field I thought we’d take a stab at it. It hadn’t entered my head. You don’t go from a maiden win to a stakes, but there weren’t other spots. If he takes a step forward, he’ll be competitive.”

Well Spelled ran well in two of his last three races. He ran last of seven in the middle effort, the Tom Ridge Stakes on the synthetic track at Presque Isle Downs.

Back at his Monmouth home base, Well Spelled was a rallying third last time out in a second-level allowance.

“He’s a nice, solid horse,” trainer Ben Perkins Jr. said. “He tries hard every time.”

Scaramagna, third last time out in a second-level allowance at Suffolk Downs, completes the field.