by Garnet Barnsdale
There’s a New York-bred sophomore pacing filly who, if she isn’t creating a buzz for her consistency and versatility, she should be.
That filly, Clear Idea — a daughter of American Ideal out of the Artsplace mare Glass Maker – shoots for her eighth consecutive win in this Sunday’s $257,850 Empire Breeders Classic at Tioga Downs. The Blake Macintosh trainee also will be trying to extend a streak of 14 consecutive finishes in the top two in a breakout season in which she has earned close to $200,00 for Macintosh of Cambridge, ON and partner Hutt Racing Stable of Paoli, PA.
Clear Idea was a gate-to-wire winner in her elimination last Sunday which was her 15th start of 2017. She has not finished out of the money once and Macintosh said he can’t remember having one in his barn that has been more consistent. “She’s just been unbelievable this year,” he said. “She just tries and she has been doing a bit better down south because you can get after her a bit more down there. She responds to encouragement and likes to keep going.”
Clear Idea was lightly-raced at two, winning one of five starts with two seconds and a third, for earnings of just over $15,000. Shutting her down and giving her time to mature is a move that has paid off handsomely in 2017.
“She was a smaller two-year-old and she grew a lot this year,” Macintosh said. “She raced in the Excelsior series last year and we decided to shut her down. There were no real lameness issues or anything; she was really good that way.”
Macintosh picked Clear Idea out of the Goshen Yearling sale for $30,000, which he says at the time was a lot for him to pay for a yearling. “I buy a lot of Winbak horses and Mr. Thomson and I liked this filly,” he said. “I liked the family; I’d had luck with the family in the past, so we took a shot on her even though at that point I didn’t spend a lot of money. In that year, $30,000 was a big purchase for me. Mr. Thomson wanted me to spend a bit more money and he said if I wanted her, he’d take half, so we bought her.
Assuming Clear Idea’s run of in-the-money finishes continue, she could earn 10 times her sale price before year’s end. While she was expected to be good, Macintosh says she has already exceeded expectations. “She just matured a lot,” he said. “I didn’t expect her to be this nice; I thought she’d be a good Excelsior horse. I didn’t expect her to be the top New York Sires Stakes filly. She showed some talent last year. She just matured and started winning and she likes it, I guess.”
Sunday’s race could boil down to a battle between the two elimination winners, with the other winner, Tequila Monday, drawing to the inside of Clear Idea in post position one.
“We’ve beat Tequila both times we raced her this year, but those were on half-mile tracks and our filly is more built for the half,” Macintosh said. “Tequila will be tough to beat on the 5/8ths. She doesn’t handle the turns as well as my filly does on the half, but my filly doesn’t give up, either.”
As for strategy, Macintosh said he hopes to get away 2nd or 3rd, then “go from there. Our filly is better chasing,” he said. “She gets a little lazy on the front end until someone comes to her.”
This is of many interesting races on a stacked card at Tioga Downs on Sunday, culminating with the Roll With Joe stakes for aged pacers, which follows Clear Idea’s clash with Tequila Monday. Macintosh is hoping it’s his sophomore that creates a buzz on the 5/8ths oval.