Bernard Cleary’s Ever So Clever was approximately two lengths the best in Friday’s G3 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park, earning herself 100 points and a starting spot in the Kentucky Oaks if her connections so choose. Off at odds of 15-1, the 3-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro came from well off the pace to run down the frontrunning Chanel’s Legacy in late stretch, gliding clear in the final 50 yards. Ridden by Luis Contreras for trainer Steve Asmussen, Ever So Clever covered 1 1/16 miles over the fast main track in 1:43.40.
“She felt great today,” said Contreras. “The last time I got an opportunity to ride her, she finished fifth. I learned a lot and Steve gave me some advice about the filly, how she likes to run. we got everything perfect today. From the time we broke, she did everything by herself. I just waited, got patient and kicked in at the quarter pole, and she gave me everything.”
As is her wont, Chanel’s Legacy broke sharply and immediately went out to the lead, while Ever So Clever paradoxically broke a bit leisurely under Contreras, who guided her quietly over toward the inside rail from her outer-most post position (12). Through the first turn Chanel’s Legacy had established a solid one-length advantage over Kell Paso, who was flanked on either side by My Sweet Stella and Spooky Woods. Meanwhile, Ever So Clever managed to get down to just two paths off the rail through that clubhouse turn, wafting up into third-from-last place while totally relaxed under a long hold.
Chanel’s Legacy dictated fractions of :23.37 and :47.03, taking a bit of a breather in the second quarter of the race. Kell Paso moved up a bit, followed by Spooky Woods, increasing the pressure on the leader approaching the far turn. Ever So Clever stayed on her left lead all the way down the backstretch, drifting out a bit wide on the course, but neither the filly nor her rider seemed to be concerned about the oddity.
Through the bend, Spooky Woods was the major challenger to Chanel’s Legacy, but the leading filly had more left in the tank. She burst out to a two-length advantage at the head of the lane, sprinting clear under the slightest of urging.
Contreras worked out a pretty solid trip for Ever So Clever, splitting rivals first at the five-eighths pole and later at the five-sixteenths, but then was carried terribly wide at the top of the stretch, nearly eight paths off the inside. Undeterred, Contreras went after the filly left-handed and she finally changed leads, rallying fiercely down the center of the track. Ever So Clever caught Chanel’s Legacy in the final sixteenth of a mile, and after a brief struggle cruised on under the wire about two lengths better than Chanel’s Legacy. Vexatious came up just short to finish third, while Torrent had a rough trip to finish a late-running fourth.
“Luis gave her a perfect trip,” Asmussen said. “Nice filly. Nice filly. The filly broke fine from the 12 hole. He made an immediate decision, got over. She was probably only 6-7 off the lead around the first turn, two-wide and carrying him well. I thought it made the difference in the race.”
Bred in Kentucky by Clearsky Farms, Ever So Clever is out of the multiple graded stakes-placed Mr. Greely mare Foxy Danseur. Ever So Clever broke her maiden at first asking, then recorded a couple of graded stakes placings to emulate her dam. After her winter layoff, the filly had only managed a pair of fifth-place efforts at Oaklawn Park, but the strong win in the Fantasy marked her first graded stakes victory. Overall, Ever So Clever boasts a record of three wins from eight starts, with earnings of over $ 370,000.
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