Saturday, February 25, 2012
Isn't He Clever, a gelding by Smarty Jones racing for J. Kirk and Judy Robson, scored a decisive victory in Saturday's $150,000 Borderland Derby at Sunland Park.
Saddled by Henry Dominguez and ridden by Alejandro Medellin, Isn't He Clever covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:43 while defeating even-money favorite Zackn'mat by 1 ¾ lengths. The gelding's win in the Borderland Derby, which serves as the major local prep race for the March 25, $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3), was his fourth in six starts and second stakes score.
Isn't He Clever's two wins in as many outs at Sunland include the 6-furlong, $104,200 Riley Allison Futurity on December 30. The gelding then shipped to California, where he was placed fourth in the February 4, $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita.
“I think the rider just wanted to go for the lead in that race, and that wasn't what we wanted,” said Dominguez. “We sent him out to California just to find out where he fit. We have a pretty good idea now.”
Isn't He Clever was bred in Kentucky by Monticule. A $45,000 buy at the 2010 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, the gelding is one of nine stakes winners from 218 starters sired by Smarty Jones, an 11-year-old son of Elusive Quality and winner of the 2004 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1), the first two legs of the American Triple Crown.
Smarty Jones has sired the earners of more than $13.8 million. The stallion stands for a $7,500 fee at Northville Stallion Station in Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania.
Isn't He Clever is also one of seven winners from as many starters produced by Sharp Minister, a 16-year-old daughter of Deputy Minister. His half brother, the Capote colt Sharp Writer, won two stakes in Northern California in 2006 and ran second in that season's Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap at Golden Gate Fields.
Isn't He Clever's second dam, the Sharpen Up (GB) mare Sharp Call, ran second in the 1988 Ontario Colleen Stakes at Woodbine.
The $90,000 winner's share of the Borderland Derby purse increased Isn't He Clever's bankroll to $215,960. The gelding's stakes resume includes a second-place finish in the 7-furlong, $100,000 Clever Trevor Stakes at Remington Park on November 11.
“We went to California to test the waters because he won the Riley Allison so easily here,” said Kirk Robison. “He beat a bunch of good horses today, so we're back on track.
“We have some other options after this race, but the Sunland Derby is graded,” he added, when asked when and where Isn't He Clever would make his next start. “Considering he won the Riley Allison and this race, and he's 2-for-2 at this track, why should we go anywhere else?”
Major Hope ran third, 10 lengths behind runner-up Zackn'mat. So Far So Fast, Tequila Factor, Justanoldsong, and Strong Resolve completed the order of finish.
Zackn'mat is a Kentucky-bred colt by Northern Afleet who sold for $60,000 at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Select Yearling Sale. Zackn'mat has won one of five starts and has earned $87,700 for his owner, Gem Inc., and he was coming off of a 1 1/2-length victory in a 7-furlong maiden special weight race at Santa Anita on January 29.
A colt by Lemon Drop Kid campaigned by Bob and Cathy Zollars, Major Hope is a maiden who has banked $29,382 from four starts. The Borderland Derby marked Major Hope's first race in New Mexico.