Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Flintshire had such an overwhelming class edge in Saturday’s $237,500 Bowling Green (G2) that not even a tactical gremlin could trip him up at Saratoga. Relegated to last in the quartet when bottled up turning for home, jockey Javier Castellano coolly angled the 1-9 favorite widest of all in the stretch, and hand rode him to a cozy victory.
Whether you’ve already seen it or not, it’s worth enjoying it all over again:
Pacesetter Grand Tito couldn’t have slowed it down any more, sauntering through fractions of :26.53, :53.14, 1:19.44 and 1:44.20 on the firm inner turf. But that doesn’t inconvenience Flintshire, who’s always going to thrive in these conditions when a premium’s put on finishing speed.
Flintshire was taking a strong hold early, not because he was too eager, but because his natural cruising speed had to be throttled back. The Chad Brown import rated as best he could in the slipstream of Grand Tito, ready to fire when called upon.
The others’ only hope was for Flintshire to get permanently strung up in traffic on the rail. Hemmed in by the stalking Can’thelpbelieving, he was also pocketed rounding by the far turn by the rallying Twilight Eclipse. Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez, who picked up the mount on Twilight Eclipse after Danish Dynaformer was scratched, saw the opportunity to get the jump on Flintshire – and close the door on an imminent peel-out from the fence.
A lesser jockey may well have overreacted on Flintshire, but Castellano was as calm and collected as his partner. He kept Flintshire under wraps until pulling out wide and taking aim at the trio in the stretch, certain that he had their measure.
With a few energetic arm pumps, Flintshire took off and mowed them down. Castellano held a tight rein as Flintshire crossed the wire with three-quarters of a length to spare over Grand Tito. Twilight Eclipse checked in third, and Can’thelpbelieving was a close fourth.
Flintshire’s combination of sheer speed and apparent effortlessness was remarkable. According to Trakus, his final three-eighths split was :33.73 (last quarter in :21.61) – including the time he was bottled up, awaiting room, and maneuvering out! Flintshire zipped his final furlong in a little less than :10.90 to complete 1 3/8 miles in 2:18.24.
Unless Saratoga turns into a bog for the August 27 Sword Dancer (G1), Flintshire’s title defense is shaping up as a formality. Juddmonte’s all-time richest campaigner has now bankrolled $8,258,674 from his 21-7-10-1 record. The six-year-old was coming off a victorious debut for Brown in the June 11 Manhattan (G1). For his career highlights with previous trainer Andre Fabre, see the Manhattan recap.
Quotes from Saratoga
Winning rider Javier Castellano: “I’ve been watching all the races in his career and I’ve seen him win in Japan and Hong Kong. The horse, he likes to cover up. As long as he covers up, he gives you that power and kick. I was a little concerned with not that many horses in the race.
“I wanted to be covered up and when turning for home finding his speed, I was going outside and he got out tremendous, a powerful kick.
“He is a great horse you don’t see too many horses like that. He’s the best horse on the turf in the world.”
Winning trainer Chad Brown: “He likes to run and cover and Javier has a really good feel for him, so I wasn’t too worried. When Twilight Eclipse finally made the move and they all went, it was a pretty easy decision to steer him outside for home.
“Javier showed a lot of poise. He didn’t panic. The horse ran terrific. He’s a true champion. They’re a great team.”
“When you have a 1-9 shot, there’s a lot of pressure. The other riders don’t give you anything, and they shouldn’t. But it all worked out. I couldn’t be more pleased with his effort. We don’t have too many star horses in the game, and there seems to be several running at the Spa, and he’s one of them.”
“My thought process with choosing this race was that it was too long a space for me between the Manhattan and the Sword Dancer. I just wanted to run this horse out of his own stall all the way up the Breeders’ Cup. I wasn’t interested in putting him on a plane to Arlington. This race made sense and it all worked out.”
Photo courtesy NYRA/Coglianese Photography/Susie Raisher