The only race Drain the Clock lost this year came the only time he went two turns. You may have noticed this hiccup, since it came in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth on the Kentucky Derby trail last winter.

Drain the Clock-Amsterdam
Budding sprinting superstar Drain the Clock nipped rival Jackie’s Warrior to win the Grade 1 Woody Stephens last month. The two meet again in Sunday’s Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga. (Image: Chris Rahaye/NYRA)

But while you paid attention to Triple Crown trail stalwarts like Essential Quality, Hot Rod Charlie, Mandaloun, Medina Spirit, and Rombauer, Drain the Clock was winning races. Four of them in his five 2021 starts, to be exact. Now, the 3-year-old goes for five in six starts in Sunday’s Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga.

At the same time, Drain the Clock goes for the hat-trick of graded-stakes titles. In June, on the Belmont Stakes undercard, he captured the Grade 1 Woody Stephens at 7.50/1. In January, even-money Drain the Clock won the Grade 3 Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park. At a value-devoid 3/10, he added the Grade 3 Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct in early April for good measure.

The Amsterdam’s 6 ½ furlongs play right into Drain the Clock’s considerable strengths. The Woody Stephens, which produced Drain the Clock’s career-best 97 Beyer Speed Figure, went 6 ½ furlongs. That Bay Shore went seven furlongs.

Short and simple equals clutch for Drain the Clock

The Swale, which he won by 6 ¼ lengths, went seven furlongs. The Black-Type Limehouse Stakes, which Drain the Clock won by 7 ½ lengths in January at Gulfstream Park, went six furlongs.

Last year? Drain the Clock opened his career with a six-furlong dissection of a maiden special weight field at five furlongs. He proceeded to win a six-furlong October allowance at Gulfstream Park West by a length.

The lesson here? Keep matters short and simple and Drain the Clock drains his foes’ hopes. “We tried two turns once and he ran credibly, but one turn is his niche and what he does best,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. told the New York Racing Association.

Fountain of Youth sprang forth in a different manner

Drain the Clock did run credibly, finishing a game second to Greatest Honour by only 1 ¼ lengths in that 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth. So if you’re keeping score, that’s four wins and a second in five 2021 races for a horse who could be a future Eclipse Award-winning sprinter.

“Most of his one-turn races were won in hand,” Joseph said. “He was basically geared down the last sixteenth in the Bay Shore. We always thought he had more to give, but until you see it, you don’t know for sure. The Woody Stephens was definitely his breakout race. He earned his respect that day and beat a game horse in Jackie’s Warrior. He’s in good form and I think he’s going over there with a really good chance.”

Speaking of Jackie’s Warrior, he returns to the site of his two Grade 1 wins last year. And he does so against a rival who nipped him at the wire in the Woody Stephens. That both Drain the Clock and Jackie’s Warrior are products of the same sire – Macleans Music – is one of those happy coincidences that will turn up again and again as these two continue to clash going forward.