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Clearly Now reverting in distance for Swale; Merit Man possible

Clearly Now finished a distant third behind Itsmyluckyday and Shanghai Bobby as a 42-1 longshot in the Grade 3 Holy Bull going 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream Park on January 26 for trainer Brian Lynch, but will turn back in distance for his second start of the season in next Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Swale at seven furlongs.

"He ran all right in the Holy Bull," Lynch said Friday afternoon. "I just don't think he's ready for the horses he has to face down here right now going two turns, but the race in the Holy Bull is ideal to set him up to come back at seven-eighths. I still think he'll stretch out with maturity when we get back to Toronto."

A Kentucky-bred by Horse Greeley, Clearly Now made three starts at Woodbine in Canada last year, winning the first two sprinting in September and November before a third-place effort in the Display on December 1 after setting the pace to midstretch of that 1 1/16-mile test.

Clearly Now could meet fellow sophomore Merit Man in the Swale. That Florida-bred son of With Distinction won the Spectacular Bid at six furlongs virtually wire-to-wire at Gulfstream Park on New Year's Day for trainer Bob Hess Jr. and came back to finish fourth in the Grade 2 Hutcheson at seven furlongs on February 2, beaten 2 3/4 lengths for it all.

"It was a disappointing race, but not terrible," Hess said. "I probably over-instructed the jockey (Paco Lopez) trying to see if he could be rated. I think he's best if you just let him run his race. We'll enter in the Swale and take a look, see who is in it and what post we draw. If we don't like it we can run him in the ($50,000) OBS (Sprint) race the next week (going six furlongs on March 11 at the Ocala Training Center)."

Merit Man made all three of his starts as a two-year-old in California, taking his maiden debut at Del Mar in early September before posting a 5 1/2-length victory in the Tim Conway at Santa Anita in early October. The bay lost a nose decision to longshot Hightail in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint at Santa Anita on November 2.

Hess was also disappointed with the last race of another stable star when Kadaya finished a non-threatening fifth as the 2-1 second choice in the Grade 3 The Very One going 1 3/8 miles last Saturday, beaten 13 1/2 lengths by favorite Starformer. The five-year-old Irish-bred mare won a pair of allowance races in her first U.S. starts over Gulfstream's turf in December and January.

"She had a legitimate excuse," Hess noted. "She suffered from the 'thumps' and was never in it. She'll be OK and we'll still consider the race at the end of the meet," referring to the Grade 3, $150,000 Orchid to be run at 1 1/2 grassy miles on Florida Derby Day, March 30.

The thumps, which affect heart rate and breathing, are the result of an electrolyte imbalance in a horse's body caused by heat and/or dehydration with a number of solutions to prevent a recurrence.

A daughter of Selkirk, Kadaya won one of five starts with three seconds in as many starts at French provincial tracks in 2011 for breeder The Aga Khan and was purchased by her current connections thereafter at auction in France.

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