08/20/2009 12:00AM

California Flag returns victorious


DEL MAR, Calif. - California Flag returned from a layoff of more than eight months to win Wednesday's $106,100 Green Flash Handicap at Del Mar, a performance that owner Keith Card and trainer Brian Koriner hopes will lead to a start in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 7.

California Flag ($4) ran five furlongs on turf in 55.22 seconds, the fastest time of the meeting for the distance. Ridden by Joe Talamo, California Flag was challenged by Bamaha Breeze through early fractions of 21.74 and 43.71 seconds, also the fastest split times of the meeting for the distance. California Flag put away Bamaha Breeze in early stretch, led by 1 1/2 lengths at the eighth pole, but was fully extended to hold off a late run from Delta Storm, the winner of the Kerlan Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park in June. California Flag prevailed by a neck. Tenga Cat finished third in the field of eight.

California Flag, a 5-year-old California-bred gelding by Avenue of Flags, was sidelined with a bone chip in an ankle last fall after winning the Grade 3 Hollywood Turf Express at Hollywood Park. He was 10th in the BC Turf Sprint at Santa Anita last October.

California Flag has won 6 of 14 starts and $352,996.