04/04/2012 1:21PM

Oaklawn: Isn't He Clever will try to pad earnings in Arkansas Derby

Tommie Morelos/Coady Photography
Isn’t He Clever will try to enhance his chances to make the Kentucky Derby by picking up more graded stakes earnins in the Arkansas Derby.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – The connections of Isn’t He Clever would like to see the horse advance to the Kentucky Derby, but with $188,000 in graded earnings he’s a bubble-type prospect, so plans have been made to run him in the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 14.

“That’s mainly the reason we’re going,” said Henry Dominguez, who trains Isn’t He Clever, the runner-up in last month’s Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Derby. “He came back out of his last race real well, and hopefully, he’ll show up in this race like he always does so we can proceed on to the big dance.”

Dominguez said Isn’t He Clever, who races for Kirk and Judy Robison, is scheduled to fly from his New Mexico base to Arkansas on Thursday, April 12. He said Robby Albarado has the mount in the Arkansas Derby.

Isn’t He Clever on Monday was 21st on the current graded earnings list for the Kentucky Derby. If more than 20 horses enter the May 5 race at Churchill Downs, starting preference goes to the horses with the highest amount of earnings in graded stakes. Isn’t He Clever picked up $176,000 for his second-place finish in the Sunland Derby on March 25, and prior to that had secured $12,000 in graded earnings for a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Lewis at Santa Anita on Feb. 4.

Overall, the horse has won 4 of 7 starts and $391,960. He won the $104,000 Riley Allison Futurity by more than 11 lengths at Sunland on Dec. 30, and also accounted for the track’s $150,000 Borderland Derby on Feb. 25. Isn’t He Clever came back in the Sunland Derby, and finished three-quarters of a length behind Daddy Nose Best while earning a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 99.

“Every time he goes out there and performs he keeps improving,” said Dominguez.

Dominguez said Twelve Twenty Two, who won the $100,000 Harry Henson Handicap on the Sunland Derby undercard, is scheduled to join Isn’t He Clever on the flight to Oaklawn. He said she will be considered for the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at the track April 13, but could end up running in one of two graded stakes at Churchill Downs in May. Twelve Twenty Two won the Harry Henson by 12 lengths, with a Beyer of 97.

The Arkansas Derby and Apple Blossom are part of the Racing Festival of the South, when Oaklawn runs at least one major stakes a day over the final week of the meet. The four-day series opens Wednesday, April 11, with the running of the Grade 2, $300,000 Fantasy, and overall will feature nine stakes worth a cumulative $2.8 million.