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Belmont Park: Flat Out takes aim at rare feat in Jockey Club Gold Cup
ELMONT, N.Y. – It would have come as no surprise had the connections of Flat Out announced his retirement at the end of last year.
The horse had completed his 6-year-old season with a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. One race earlier, Flat Out became just the 10th horse in history to win back-to-back runnings of the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. There were offers to stand Flat Out at stud, but owner Art Preston – who at one time ran a breeding operation with his brothers Jack and the late J.R. – declined.
“My interest is in racing. It’s so hard to get a horse like this,” Preston said Wednesday by phone from Texas. “You’d like to see them race as long as they want to race and they’re good at it.”
Flat Out, a son of Flatter, has been very good at racing, and nowhere has he been better than at Belmont Park, where he has 5 wins from 6 starts, all in graded stakes. On Saturday, Flat Out will attempt to win his third consecutive Jockey Club Gold Cup, a feat accomplished only by the mighty Kelso, who actually won five in a row from 1960-64.
“I think that’d be very historical. It would mean a lot to us, it really would,” Preston said. “The possibility has got us excited. Just to be in that position is terrific.”
Not only does the Jockey Club Gold Cup offer a $1 million purse, it is a Win and You’re In race for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, meaning the winner gets his entry fees paid for the race.
Given the physical issues he has had, that Flat Out is still racing – and in peak form – at age 7 is somewhat remarkable. He has had problems with quarter cracks, something that began in 2009 as a 3-year-old. Those issues plus a stress fracture suffered in his shoulder following a sixth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby conspired to keep him away from the races for 20 months.
In the last three seasons, Flat Out has competed in 20 consecutive graded stakes, winning five and running second in five and third in four more. Most recently, he was beaten a head by Alpha in the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga, but still surpassed the $3 million mark in career earnings.
The Hall of Famer Bill Mott has trained Flat Out for the last year and a half, taking over from Scooter Dickey, who had him for his first 16 races. Mott said Flat Out’s durability has impressed him.
“He’s had his foot issues we’ve had to deal with but apart from that he’s just a real durable tough sort of horse,” Mott said.
Though he’s 7, Flat Out has run some of the best races of his career this year, at least from a speed figure standpoint. In April, when he rallied to beat Cross Traffic by a head in the Grade 3 Westchester, he ran a mile in 1:32.99, and earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 116.
Though he suffered his first loss at Belmont Park in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, Flat Out got shuffled back at the quarter pole, losing any chance. He rebounded with a 2 1/2-length victory in the Grade 2 Suburban, a race in which he stalked the pace from second, a change of style from the late-running tactics he employed in years past.
“The last few races we’ve had Junior [Alvarado] on him and we finally got him convinced he needs to be [closer], a length or two off the lead,” Preston said. “He showed that in the Westchester he can go a mile as fast as any of them can and have something left.”
Preston said that in some of his previous races, Flat Out would fall eight or 10 lengths off the pace and his late run would fall short.
“You can make up five or six lengths on these Grade 1 horses, you can’t make up eight or 10,” Preston said.
In the Woodward, a race in which Flat Out fell a head short to the front-running Alpha in the slop, Flat Out drifted out under Alvarado’s left-handed whip and though he came running once Alvarado straightened him away, he couldn’t catch Alpha.
On Tuesday, Flat Out worked four furlongs in 48.28 seconds over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga. He was scheduled to ship to Belmont on Wednesday.
How Flat Out fares on Saturday will determine his future. Preston would like to get Flat Out back to the Breeders’ Cup Classic – he finished fifth as the favorite in that race at Churchill Downs in 2011. After that, Preston will decide whether to retire him or run him again at 8, all depending on the condition of the horse and what potential stallion offers are made.
“Who knows if I’ll have another horse like this?” he said.
I wont say it will never be on pay per view,because at some point the HRC will probaly give it a trial run .I will say thia though if you really enjoy watching the some of the worlds very best horses run against the best I would definitely pay,that if i didnt have tickets,and baby do i have tickets this year.So.Cal here i come
Sorry people but I have to say this. WHO WOULD NOT Pay $40 to see Breeders Cup live. Some guy is complaining.about that. I would pay to see it on Pay per view. OH crap I just gave them a ideal you Guys are going to kill Me now.
In Flat Outs latest, The Woodward Stakes at Saratoga. Flat Out ran as hard as he ever had IMO, hope it didn't take to much out of the Old man. Alpha , with blinkers on and the way he won his latest, The Woodward and at 8/1 ML. Is that right , 8/1 ? A gift........
I agree that Flat Out should not be mentioned in the same breath as Kelso. I was on hand at Belmont for the 5th of Kelso's wins and at that time the race was 2 miles and he broke not only the track but the WORLD record for 2 miles. He was also HOY for 5 consecutive years. Kelso was in the top 5 of the century on everyone's list. Let's not take anything away from Flat Out however. These days that is super that he has been around that long and may make it three in a row. Good luck to an old warrior.
Flat Out having a chance to win three in a row probably says more about the weakness of the division than anything else. He's a nice horse but not even close to a superstar. Even putting him in the same sentence with Kelso is ridiculous.
Well as it may be they haven't mention in the DRF 9/24/2013 @ 4:20 pm Orb being in the Jockey Club Gold Cup race on Saturday so, Old Orb might be the horse to beat in that race today is just the 9/25/2013;
Dropping BIG dime on Flat Out. The 3 yr olds aren't fast enough and CT will die in the final 1/4 mile. I think this is the easiest stakes race to bet on Sat. Hopefully, Flat Out will get me 3-1.
You know what? I hate this horse. I bet him so heavy in the 2011 Classic only to see him not run a lick and get beat by .. by a ... a no-talent plodder like Drosselmeyer. That was it. I said to myself then, "I will never bet another cent on this horse and I hope he never wins again." And I mean it. There are some horses you just hate and this is one of them. I will never be burned by this horse again. If he beats my selections, fine, I can live with that, but I will never bet a single cent on him ever again.
I'm not necessarily a fan of Flat Out, but I do appreciate his connections for keeping him in training and not rushing him to the breeding shed...wish we had more like them. He's the horse to beat here for sure (I wouldn't bet a penny on him outside NY though)...I'll be rooting for Orb to get it done on Sat.
They should just shortened the race to 5 furlongs since it's unusually long!! I think I have heard it alll. They hyping of these mediocre short distance sprinters bred today is the biggest reason this industry is on the decline. They couldn't run a mile whether it's the beginning of the year or end of year.