Miles Ahead Turns Back Drain the Clock in GP Sprint

Miles Ahead only beat heavily favored Drain the Clock by a neck in the $150,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint Stakes Feb. 19 at Gulfstream Park, but trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. had complete confidence that the vastly improved 5-year-old would be up to the task.

“He’s just gotten better and better. Each race, he just seems to go forward,” said Plesa, who trains the Competitive Edge gelding for his wife Laurie, David Melin, and Leon Ellman. “I felt real confident going into this race that it was going to take an exceptional effort by somebody to beat him.”

Miles Ahead, the 3-1 second choice who captured the Smile Sprint Invitational Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream last July, ran six furlongs in 1:08.88 on a fast track to capture his third straight race of the 2021-22 championship meet.

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Drain the Clock, a grade 1 winner coming off a sharp victory in a Dec. 10 optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream, was sent to post as the 3-5 favorite in a field of five. The Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained 4-year-old broke sharply but was eased off the pace by Irad Ortiz Jr. as Francatelli and Gatsby dueled to his inside along the backstretch and Miles Ahead bided his time in fourth. The opening quarter-mile was run in :21.96 while the half went in :44.72. Drain the Clock moved three wide around the pacesetters to take a lead into the stretch with Miles Ahead in hot pursuit. The favorite kicked in through the stretch while drifting out late, but Miles Ahead would not be denied under Paco Lopez.

Drain the Clock, who won the Woody Stephens Stakes Presented by Nassau County Industrial Developmental Agency (G1) at Belmont Park last season, finished 4 1/4 lengths clear of multiple graded stakes winner Diamond Oops , who finished third after lagging off the early pace.

The winner returned $8.20 on a $2 win ticket.

Drain the Clock had won four of five previous starts at Gulfstream, his only loss coming in a second-place finish in last year’s 1 1/16-mile Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2). The Kentucky-bred colt, who won the six-furlong Limehouse Stakes and seven-furlong Claiborne Farm Swale Stakes (G3) prior to the Fountain of Youth, went on to win the Bay Shore Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct Racetrack and the Woody Stephens.

Plesa said he had no firm next-out plans for Miles Ahead, who won for the 11th time during a 21-race career and has earned $435,725.

“He’s found his niche and we’re taking advantage of it. Who knows what the future holds, but it makes you think about a lot of things,” Plesa said.

Bred in Kentucky by Nicholas M. Lotz and Betsy Kelley out of the stakes-winning, graded stakes-placed Awesome Again mare Jennie R. , Miles Ahead was a $175,000 purchase by his current connections from Top Line Sales’ consignment to the Ocala Breeders’ Sales March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training in 2019. He graduated the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale for $120,000 when purchased by Billy Williams from the consignment of James B. Keogh.

Miles Ahead is the first graded stakes winner out of Jennie R., whose four starters have all been winners. She is also the dam of black-type winner La Grange (by Curlin ).