'Why Not?' Kruljac Hopes Cal-Bred Clouseau Can Take Him To Preakness Stakes - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

‘Why Not?’ Kruljac Hopes Cal-Bred Clouseau Can Take Him To Preakness Stakes

Trainer Ian Kruljac has a moment with Finest City after their victory in the 2017 Grade 2, $200,000 Santa Monica Stakes

Borrowing a tagline from the California Thoroughbred Breeders' Association, it pays to own a Cal-bred if you're the connections of 3-year-old Clouseau, who on Friday became the first two-time winner at the Classic meet at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

After earning his diploma against state-breds going six furlongs on dirt here Jan. 6, Clouseau returned in a first-level state-bred allowance going the same trip and scored at 7-1 for trainer Ian Kruljac. Clouseau's winning time of 1:10.52 was nearly equal that of the 1:10.47 posted later on the card by the hard-hitting 5-year-old Saffa's Day in a $32,000 claimer.

As for Clouseau, he is about as well-pedigreed a Cal-bred as you will find. Bred by PT Syndicate #1 LLC, the bay colt is by top Kentucky-based stallion Distorted Humor out of the winning mare English Garden, who herself is a daughter of classic winner Bernardini.

Clouseau went through the sale's ring at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton California Fall Yearlings and Horses of All Ages Sale where he commanded $150,000, which was among the highest-prices paid at the auction. The buyer? Eric Kruljac, a longtime Santa Anita-based trainer and Ian's father.

“I have a guy. He's got a pretty good eye,” Ian Kruljac quipped Saturday morning.

Last fall, Clouseau kicked off his career with two uneventful starts on turf, both while wearing blinkers.

“He's always had a great mind on him, but after that last start (as a 2-year-old) we took the blinkers off and completely started over with him,” Ian Kruljac said. “Then we sprinted him on dirt (for his maiden win), which looking back we should have done in the first place.”

In Friday's allowance win, Clouseau broke from the rail and stalked the pace on the inside under Geovanni Franco. Clouseau stayed on the rail in the stretch and at the sixteenth pole, drew alongside the two leaders and drove past to the wire to win by three-quarters of a length.

“I was happy he was not too far out of it,” said Kruljac, who operates a stable of seven horses at Santa Anita with Clouseau being one of two Cal-breds.

“I think he's going to be a versatile horse, so we wanted him to settle to help when he goes two turns.”

Clouseau is owned by an extensive ownership group that includes ISK Racing Stable, Doug Hames, Rebekah Lawless, Tom Lawless, Frank Lewkowitz and Karen Lewkowitz.

As you may have presumed, Kruljac confirmed the colt was named by Frank Lewkowitz as an ode to Inspector Jacques Clouseau from The Pink Panther series.

“Dr. Frank Lewkowitz is a longtime owner with our family and can be funny with his names like that,” Kruljac said.

As for what's next for Clouseau, Kruljac said “whatever Cal-bred stakes comes up.”

But that's not all Kruljac is thinking. He has even bigger game on his mind come spring.

“The Preakness,” he said of the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

The Preakness for a Cal-bred?

“Why not?”

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