Peter Brant’s homebred Francesco Clemente came with a furious rally down the center of the course on the way to scoring a two-and-a-quarter length victory in the G3 William L. McKnight Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, 27 January.
Making just his four North American start, the five-year-old son of Dubawi finally broke through to earn his first Graded Stakes win, after coming up just a neck short in his previous start, the G2 Hollywood Turf Cup at Del Mar in November. With the victory, Francesco Clemente improved his record to five wins and two second-place finishes in nine career starts.
Ridden patiently by Irad Ortiz Jr., Francesco Clemente was unhurried early, trailing all but one runner as F Five and Cellist led the field through the early stages of the 12-furlong turf contest. The top pair were joined by Verstappen on the far turn, as Francesco Clemente began to make up ground on the leaders, closing rapidly while racing wide.
Under a steady drive from Ortiz, Francesco Clemente took command inside the sixteenth pole and began to pull away, eventually crossing the wire an easy winner.
Bred in Ireland, Francesco Clemente is out of Justlookdontouch, an unraced daughter of Galileo that is a half-sister to Champion and multiple G1 winner, Islington, winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. In addition to Francesco Clemente, Justlookdontouch is also the dam of multiple Stakes winner Abingdon (by Street Cry).
Dubawi enjoyed an excellent year in 2023, siring 39 individual Stakes winners. Eight of those were G1 winners, such as Champion Modern Games and unbeaten juvenile Henry Longfellow.
Dubawi will stand the 2024 breeding season for £350,000 at Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket.