TORONTO, ON – Donato Lanni and Daniel Plouffe’s Clayton saw his pure talent overcome his greenness in the stretch to prevail narrowly in Saturday’s $150,000 Plate Trial Stakes at Woodbine.

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Breaking from post 3 under Rafael Hernandez as the 3/5 favorite, Clayton sat two-wide outside of Glorious Tribute heading into the clubhouse turn. Ahead of them, Dotted Line dueled with Halo Again through opening fractions of :24.72, :49.31, and 1:13.73.

Clayton joined the fray with a three-wide bid in the far turn that was reminiscent of his winning move in his last-out effort over this course, but he struggled to stay on his correct lead after straightening for home.

Fighting step for step with the pacesetters, Clayton dug in gamely and held onto his 1/2-length lead the length of the stretch. The Kevin Attard trainee completed the 1 1/8-mile fast synthetic route in a final time of 1:50.61.

Credit: Michael Burns Photo

“Thank God and thank Kevin and the owners for the opportunity to ride the horse,” Hernandez said. “I thought it was going to be more easy. There was a little trouble early in the race; I tried to settle down the horse, he just wanted to go. After the two horses got in front, he dropped the bridle and settled down and I was more confident in the backside about him.”

Halo Again’s game effort between rivals put him a head past Dotted Line. Glorious Tribute necked out Elusive Knight for fourth.

Northern Thunder played no factor into the race before completing the order of finish in the event restricted to 3-year-olds foaled in Canada.

Clayton’s win was his second straight and improved his overall record to 4-3-1-0 with $154,215 earned. The Bodemeister colt will head to the $1 million Queen’s Plate – the premiere event for Canadian-foaled 3-year-olds – as a likely favorite, though perhaps with a bit less steam than he had entering this event.

“He loomed up like he was going to kind of kick on like he did in his last race, and obviously, they kind of kicked on with him and made it a good fight to the finish,” said Attard. “We’ll kind of watch the replay, see how he comes out of this race, and take it from there. See if there’s any adjustments that need to be made. Obviously, this is just kind of one step in the right direction, but I don’t want to be remembered as the Plate Trial winner.”

Clayton returned $3.30 to win, $2.10 to place, and $2.10 to show. Halo Again brought back $3 to place and $2.40 to show, while Dotted Line paid $2.50 to show.