05/15/2016 5:14PM

Castellano saves valuable ground for Turco Bravo in Flat Out

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Javier Castellano guides Turco Bravo to a 1 1/4-length victory in the 1 3/8-mile Flat Out.

At 1 3/8 miles, the Flat Out was long enough. Javier Castellano wasn’t going to make Turco Bravo run any further than that if he could help it.

Saving ground throughout - except when it came time to go by a tiring rival - Turco Bravo took the shortest and fastest way home and won Sunday’s inaugural $100,000 Flat Out Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths at Belmont Park.

Securitiz, the 9-5 favorite who sparred on the lead with Winter Games, finished second, 2 1/4 lengths in front of Neck ‘n Neck, who nosed out Catholic Cowboy for third. Elnaawi finished fifth while Winter Games was last.

Turco Bravo won for the 13th time in 50 starts though 10 of those wins came in his native Chile. His previous two victories here came in the Stymie Stakes at Aqueduct in 2015 and this past March.

Turco Bravo was coming off a third-place finish behind the multiple graded stakes winner Kid Cruz in the Grade 3 Excelsior. Turco Bravo had trained extremely well out of that race so trainer Gary Contessa reached out for three-time Eclipse Award winning rider Javier Castellano.

Breaking from the rail, Castellano maintained Turco Bravo’s inside position, never more than three lengths off the pace established by Winter Games. Securitiz and Elnaawi alternated challenges to Winter Games, who set fractions of 24.61 seconds, 49.00, 1:13.72, and 1:38.57 for the mile.

Around the turn Castellano put Turco Bravo in the two path as he could sense Winter Games was about to fade. Securtiz, the surprising 9-5 favorite, took over the lead from Winter Games, but turning for home Turco Bravo rallied through a sizeable opening along the rail and galloped home a comfortable winner.

“He’s a horse that when you get him going you really can’t stop him,” Contessa said. “The last time out, at the three-eighths pole, he got checked and had to get restated again. Whenever he gets stopped and has to get started again he runs poorly. I told Javier, I don’t care how long you have to wait or where you are but, when you make your move try not to stop him, try to make it a complete move. Boy, oh boy, did that ever work out.”

This race was put on the schedule as a prep for the Grade 2, $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational at Belmont on June 11. Turco Bravo finished seventh of 11 in last year’s Brooklyn.

“If he’s training great, we’ll do it. If he takes a step backward we’ll pass,” Contessa said.