01/25/2015 7:57PM

Pure Tactics confirms fondness for hillside in Clocker's Corner

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Benoit & Associates
Pure Tactics, ridden by Mike Smith, wins his second stakes on the hillside turf course in the Clocker's Corner.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Pure Tactics has found a home on Santa Anita’s hillside turf course for the next five months.

Sunday, Pure Tactics won his third stakes in the last year, and second on the hillside course, in the $79,800 Clocker’s Corner Stakes. Trainer Doug O’Neill said in the winner’s circle there is no plan for races at other distances.

“We have these races on the hillside for a lot of the year,” O’Neill said. “Once you get a horse that likes the hill, it’s an advantage.”

Pure Tactics ($14.40) ran about 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:12.28. Ridden by Mike Smith, Pure Tactics closed from seventh in a field of 11 to win by a half-length over a fast-closing Hay Dude.

Smith said the trip was different than what he expected. He thought that Pure Tactics would stalk Ankeny Hill in second, but found himself behind more horses in a contending position on the hillside.

“There were all these other horses staying close,” he said. “I said, ‘Let’s go to plan B and be the closer.’ We had a good trip.”

Fly Lexis Fly set a quick pace of 21.73 and 43.70 seconds for the first half-mile, closely followed by Ankeny Hill.

Pure Tactics with eighth on the hillside and fourth with a furlong remaining. Pure Tactics took the lead in the last sixteenth. Sweet Swap, the 5-2 favorite, finished third, followed by Ankeny Hill, Forever Juanito, Mr. Commons, Lil Bit O’Fun, Fly Lexis Fly, Bahamian Squall, Bolita Boyz, and Clubhouse Ride.

Smith is unbeaten in three rides on Pure Tactics, including the Siren Lure Stakes last June and an optional claimer at five furlongs on turf at Del Mar last July.

“So far we’re getting along great,” Smith said. “Hopefully, it will continue.”

Smith did not ride Pure Tactics in a four-race span in the second half of 2014, which included a win in the Lure Stakes here at a mile on turf under jockey Rafael Bejarano in October. Owned by Doug and Anita Cole, Pure Tactics has won 9 of 21 starts and earned $360,836.