12/28/2011 2:54PM

Sunland Park: Isn't He Clever will stalk pace in Riley Allison Futurity

Tom Keyser
Tequila Factor will make his first start since the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in Friday's $100,000 Riley Allison Futurity at Sunland Park.

A first look at some of the New Mexico-based horses eyeing next spring’s Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Park Derby comes Friday in the $100,000 Riley Allison Futurity. A field of seven will go in the 49-year-old fixture at Sunland, including Tequila Factor, who last raced in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf; Alsvid, winner of the $75,000 Kip Deville at Remington Park in October; and Isn’t He Clever, an up-and-coming son of Smarty Jones.

The Riley Allison, which will be run over 6 1/2 furlongs, also drew Santa Anita shipper Truetap, a maiden winner in August who races for Winchell Thoroughbreds and is trained by Steve Asmussen.

Isn’t He Clever came to hand rapidly this fall. He won his debut by more than nine lengths at Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M., on Sept. 13, then took a first-level allowance at the track Oct. 24. From there, Isn’t He Clever shipped to Oklahoma for the $100,000 Clever Trevor, the middle leg of Remington’s series for 2-year-olds that was run Nov. 11. Isn’t He Clever stalked the pace, took the lead, and was edged near the wire, finishing second by a half-length.

“He ran a real good race that day, just got caught,” said Henry Dominguez, who trains Isn’t He Clever for J. Kirk and Judy Robison. “We didn’t go back to the Springboard Mile [at Remington on Dec. 10] because we wanted to run in the Riley Allison.

“We’ve got a long year ahead of us. We want to take our time, pick our spots, and hopefully he’s as good as we think he is.”

Isn’t He Clever, whose sire won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, is a half-brother to two-time stakes winner Sharp Writer. Both horses are from the mare Sharp Minister, who is a full sister to Flag Down, a five-time Grade 2 winner who earned more than $1.6 million. Alejandro Medellin has the mount on Isn’t He Clever, who will break from post 5. The horse could get an ideal stalking trip behind Alsvid and Ol Winedrinker Who.

“You can do anything with him, he’s a real kind horse,” Dominguez said.

Tequila Factor, who was 14th in the BC Juvenile Turf one start after winning the $75,000 El Joven at Retama Park, will be making his first start for JT & B Racing and trainer C.L. Wilson. He was a $75,000 purchase at the Keeneland November auction following the Breeders’ Cup.

◗ The Friday card includes a pair of rich races for Quarter Horses, the $194,262 Winter Futurity and the $135,615 Winter Derby.