El Paso, TX — Isn’t He Clever regained his top form on Tuesday with a splendid comeback win against a stakes winning field at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino.
The well decorated Sunland Park hero came back to the races following a series a sharp workouts for trainer Henry Dominguez. The 2012 Sunland Derby (Gr. III) runner-up and 2013 Bill Thomas Memorial Handicap winner made his first start since running at Del Mar last summer. The agile son of Smarty Jones raced as the 9-5 second favorite in the $35,900 allowance going six and one half furlongs. His rivals included Budweiser and KLAQ Handicap winner Homerun Berti, Winsham Lad winner Smack Ridge and the imposing Arizona export Spanish Jazz.
Ridden by Enrique Portillo Gomez, Isn’t He Clever raced in tandem with Homerun Berti down the back stretch with dead aim on pace setting Chasing the Heat. Isn’t He Clever commenced a 3-wide move around the turn and rocketed to the front in upper stretch while Homerun Berti raced towards a rail opening and Chasing The Heat began to fizzle.
In mid-stretch, Isn’t He Clever look just like his old self and powered clear to a comprehensive 3 and ¼ length win in a time of 1:14.30, just off his own track record of 1:13.45 set during the 2013 Bill Thomas Memorial Handicap. The five-year-old gelding posted his 8th career win from 17 starts for local owners Kirk and Judy Robison. His bankroll stands at over $564,000. His career resumes also shows big wins win in the 2012 Ruidoso Thoroughbred Derby and the 2013 San Juan County Commissioner’s Handicap at SunRay Park. Isn’t He Clever should be a major threat to defend his title in the 2014 Bill Thomas Memorial Handicap to be held on Sunday, March 23 along with the $800,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. III).
Spanish Jazz closed with interest to gain second place followed by 6-5 favorite Homerun Berti in third. Both runners are trained by leading conditioner Justin Evans. Live racing resumes on Friday at 12:55 p.m. The $85,000 Mt. Cristo Rey Handicap is slated for Saturday. The $85,000 Mesilla Valley Speed Handicap will be run on Sunday.