08/18/2016 1:40PM

Flamboyant enters Del Mar Handicap in top form

Shigeki Kikkawa
Flamboyant scores in the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita in February.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Flamboyant has changed for the better in the last year.

In 2015, he was winless in five starts, including a sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap. This year, Flamboyant’s campaign has been brighter – two stakes wins at Santa Anita in January and February and a third in the Grade 2 Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar on July 17. The current campaign has made Flamboyant the 123-pound highweight for Saturday’s $250,000 Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on turf.

There is more at stake than a first-place purse of $150,000. The Del Mar Handicap is part of the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In program, offering a fees-paid berth in the BC Turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 5 to the winner, if he was nominated to the program.

Flamboyant has earned a career-best $450,000 this year. Trainer Paddy Gallagher said he can only guess at the reason for the improvement. Flamboyant, a 5-year-old, was gelded last year.

“Maybe it was because he was gelded,” Gallagher said. “He seems to run a little better or hold his form.”

Flamboyant, who races for David Bienstock and Chuck Winner, is part of a strong field of 12. The Del Mar Handicap is the eighth race on an 11-race program and is part of a 50-cent pick four linking two stakes at Saratoga – the Fourstardave Handicap and Alabama Stakes – with two stakes at Del Mar, including the $1 million Pacific Classic.

:: PACIFIC CLASSIC: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live on DRF.com


Flamboyant, by Peer Gynt
Last 3 Beyers: 103-NA-97

◗ Flamboyant won two Grade 2 turf races at Santa Anita this year – the San Gabriel and San Marcos – before finishing fifth in the $6 million Dubai Turf in the United Arab Emirates in March. The Eddie Read Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf was Flamboyant’s comeback race. He closed from sixth to finish three-quarters of a length behind the winner, Midnight Storm.

◗ Flamboyant has started at 1 3/8 miles on turf once, in the 2015 Del Mar Handicap, making Saturday’s race an important test at a longer distance.

“He acts like he’ll run that far, but you don’t know that until you see it,” Gallagher said.

Ashleyluvssugar, by Game Plan
Last 3 Beyers: 103-102-100

◗ Ashleyluvssugar was second in the 2015 Del Mar Handicap and was turned out after that race because of body soreness. A two-time stakes winner in 2015, Ashleyluvssugar is winless in two starts this year – a third in the Crystal Water Stakes for California-breds at a mile June 11 and a second in the Read.

“He ran really well in the Eddie Read,” trainer Peter Eurton said. “He’s holding his weight.”

◗ Ashleyluvssugar will race as a stalker. The 5-year-old gelding has shown energy in his recent workouts, an encouraging sign, Eurton said.

“I expect him to be keen, but he’s always like that,” Eurton said. “If he’s not, something is wrong.”

Metaboss, by Street Boss
Last 3 Beyers: 100-85-85

◗ Metaboss has had three trainers in the last 18 months. He was a graded-stakes winner for trainer Jeff Bonde in Northern California in 2015. Earlier this year, when trained by Michael Dickinson, Metaboss lost three optional-claiming races in Maryland but had troubled trips each time.

◗ On July 23, Metaboss won an optional claimer on turf here in his first start for trainer Phil D’Amato. The Del Mar Handicap will be the graded-stakes debut on turf for Metaboss.