07/06/2013 6:17PM

Belmont Park: Flat Out pulls away to Suburban victory

Barbara D. Livingston
Flat Out, with Junior Alvarado up, wins the Suburban for the second time in three years.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Even though his horse was the 7-5 second choice in the race, trainer Chad Brown knew the only real chance his Last Gunfighter had to win Saturday’s Grade 2 Suburban was if the multiple Grade 1 winner Flat Out was off his game.Looking at Flat Out in the Belmont Park paddock before the race, Brown didn’t see anything amiss with the favorite.

“Running against a horse of his quality, as a trainer, I’m observing him to see if there were any chinks in the armor,” Brown said. “Bill [Mott] had him dead on today. The horse looked great, he acted good in the paddock, and he ran his ‘A’ race.”

As he always does at Belmont, Flat Out did run his ‘A’ race, sitting a closer-than-usual second early on under Junior Alvarado before pulling away from the field in the stretch to win the Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban Handicap by 2 1/2 lengths at sweaty Belmont Park. Last Gunfighter, who had won his last six races, got up by a nose for second over Fast Falcon. Alpha and the pacesetting Percussion completed the order of finish.

It was the second Suburban victory in three years for Flat Out, who won this race in 2011 when he was trained by Scooter Dickey. Overall, Flat Out is 5 for 6 at Belmont, all graded stakes victories. The $210,000 first-place purse he earned Saturday pushed Flat Out’s career earnings to $2,945,383 for Preston Stables.

Flat Out became the third 7-year-old to win the Suburban - run for the 127th time Saturday - joining Winter’s Tale (1983) and Key Contender (1995). Mad Hatter was 8 when he won the Suburban in 1924.

Coming off a victory in the Grade 3 Westchester and a third in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap - both one-mile races with sharp early fractions - Flat Out was sharp attending the early pace established by Percussion. Flat Out was within 1 1/2 lengths of Percussion through a half-mile in 47.22 seconds.

“He’d been laying a little close in races that were faster - 44, 45 - I knew if they slowed down I’d be either on the lead or laying where I was,” Alvarado said.

Flat Out took a short lead leaving the quarter pole and when Alvarado shook him up straightening for home, Flat Out pulled away decisively.

Flat Out, a son of Flatter, covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.87 and returned $4 as the even-money favorite.

“This was obviously an easier race than the last two,” Mott said. “He ran hard today, but he ran real hard to win the [Westchester] and he got jostled around in the Met Mile and it may have cost him something. Nice to see him bounce back.”

Mott said that if Flat Out comes out of the Suburban in good shape he could return on Aug. 3 at Saratoga in the Grade 1 Whitney, a race in which he finished third to Fort Larned last year.