06/15/2007 11:00PM

Flashy Bull came, saw, and conquered

Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos
Robby Albarado celebrates aboard Flashy Bull after winning the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap on Saturday with a well-timed move.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Flashy Bull powered to the lead at the top of the stretch, then was all out in the final yards to barely hold off a late rush by Magna Graduate when scoring a head victory Saturday in the $829,500 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs.

Ridden by Robby Albarado and based in New York with trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, Flashy Bull was not confirmed as a starter for the Grade 1 Stephen Foster until Wednesday, the day entries were taken.

"I was on the golf course Wednesday when Kiaran called me," said Terry Finley, president of the West Point Thoroughbreds syndicate which owns Flashy Bull. "I could hear it in his voice when he said, 'We need to go.' "

Before an ontrack crowd of 11,424, and with temperatures rising into the low 90s, Flashy Bull laid off a hot early pace set by 109-1 shot Mr. Umphrey. Into the far turn of the 1 1/8-mile race, he crept closer from the outside, and after Wanderin Boy had briefly taken over for Mr. Umphrey, Flashy Bull sped away from the field with a huge move, opening about four lengths past the eighth pole.

Then the colt began to tire, and the wire came just in time, as Magna Graduate, ridden by Garrett Gomez, fell just short of nailing him. Diamond Stripes finished just another half-length back in third. The final time was 1:48.63 over a fast track.

Finley, in the company of other West Point members, was trembling moments after the tight finish. He said the win was easily the richest in the syndicate's history "by about three times."

Flashy Bull earned $498,863 with his fifth victory from 18 overall starts.

Flashy Bull, a 4-year-old gray by Holy Bull, now has won four straight races, having captured two allowance races before winning the May 19 Schaefer Handicap at Pimlico in his previous start. The colt had raced once before at Churchill, finishing 14th of 20 in the 2006 Kentucky Derby.

Master Command, the 8-5 favorite, never appeared comfortable after racing in tight quarters into the first turn and failed to threaten, finishing sixth in the field of eight. The start of the race was delayed by 12 minutes for shoe repairs in the paddock for both Master Command and Mr. Umphrey.

The Foster anchored the second-richest day in terms of purse money of the Churchill spring meet, after only the Kentucky Derby on May 5. Five other stakes were on the card. Indian Vale, ridden by John Velazquez, captured the secondary feature, the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap.