Get ready to welcome back two familiar names from the Saffie Joseph Jr. barn: Drain the Clock and Ny Traffic, both who return in the next month for campaign-beginning races.
And after those two warm-up starts, the pair could meet in the April 9 Grade 1 Carter Handicap at Aqueduct. That is the New York Racing Association’s first Grade 1 race of the year.
Before then, however, Joseph said Drain the Clock is headed to the Feb. 12 Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint. A good outing there and the 4-year-old Maclean’s Music colt could find himself on a plane to the Middle East. Joseph didn’t rule out running Drain the Clock on one of the Dubai World Cup’s rich undercard events, such as the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen or the Group 2 Godolphin Mile. The Golden Shaheen is a 6 1/2-furlong race.
The only time Drain the Clock ran more than seven furlongs in his 11-race career came in last year’s Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream. He finished a solid second in the 1 1/16-mile trek to Greatest Honour. His seven victories came at either five furlongs, six furlongs or seven furlongs.
Drain the Clock has speed to burn
This includes Drain the Clock’s last outing: a half-length victory in an allowance optional claiming race at Gulfstream Dec. 10. That six-furlong score, complete with career-best 104 Equibase Speed Figure, came as the 2/5 favorite.
“Drain the Clock is doing well,” Joseph told NYRA. “He’ll run in the Gulfstream Sprint in February and then he might go to Dubai. It’s between the Carter and Dubai, but we hope to bring someone up for the Carter — either Ny Traffic or Collaborate.”
As for Ny Traffic, he’s set to open his 5-year-old season at the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Mile March 5. He hasn’t run since destroying his fellow New York-breds by 8 3/4 lengths in the Black-Type Hudson Oct. 30 at Belmont Park.
Close, but no Cigar Mile for Ny Traffic
Joseph planned running the runner-up in the 2020 Haskell in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile in December. But he had to scratch the horse due to an illness.
That Hudson was a 6 1/2-furlong affair, and like the seven-furlong Carter, a one-turn race. This fits Joseph’s plans to run Ny Traffic in one-turn races this year. The last time he ran more than one turn came at last August’s Grade 2 Charles Town Classic, where Ny Traffic finished a distant sixth — 10 1/2 lengths behind Art Collector.
Joseph wants Ny Traffic avoiding two-turn traffic
Prior to that, Ny Traffic finished fourth in July’s two-turn, 1 1/8-mile Grade 3 Monmouth Cup Stakes at Monmouth Park. For his career, Ny Traffic is 4-4-2 in 16 starts.
“He seems to be best cut back to one turn,” Joseph said. “He fought off the bug he had and he’s probably going to go to the Gulfstream Mile in March. He’s been working well.”