06/11/2016 6:23PM

Flintshire flaunts his class in winning Manhattan

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Emily Shields
Flintshire and jockey Javier Castellano win the Manhattan Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths Saturday.

ELMONT, N.Y. – The Flintshire based in New York with trainer Chad Brown looks every bit as strong as the Flintshire based for three years in France with trainer Andre Fabre.

Moved overseas by Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms to be based in the U.S. with Brown this year, Flintshire delivered a scintillating performance Saturday while making his first start since Dec. 13, winning the Grade 1, $1 million Manhattan Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths.

Under Javier Castellano, Flintshire stalked a slow pace before making his move in the last five-sixteenths of a mile. He whizzed past the leaders and won going away, running his final half-mile, according to Trakus, in an amazing 44.56 seconds. Asked to name the best turf horse he’d ever ridden, Castellano pretended to ponder, scratching his chin before replying definitively, “This one.”

Ironicus, who got into a tight spot in upper stretch and had to weave back and forth for room in the stretch, ran well up the inside to finish second, a half-length better than the pacesetting World Approval. Grand Tito was fourth, followed by Divisidero, Big Blue Kitten, Triple Threat, Slumber, and Oathkeeper.

Slumber ran well below his best form, pulled up poorly, and was vanned off the course, but Brown, who also trains him, said Slumber appeared not to have suffered any major injury, though he had been cut on one of his forelegs.

Brown said the Manhattan hadn’t been seriously considered for Flintshire’s seasonal debut until the horse began training with notable verve.

“Ironically, this race wasn’t even our first pick, looking at the schedule and how he’d been running a mile and a half,” Brown said. “He dragged himself here. He was just so sharp work after work. I can’t leave him in the barn for a million dollars.”

World Approval broke on top from the rail and went to the front, with Grand Tito and Divisidero stacked up to his outside. Flintshire wasn’t far behind into the first turn either, but Castellano eased him back to stalk the pace in midpack while about two paths off the rail.

World Approval set comfortable splits of 23.81 seconds, 49.77, and 1:13.90, at which point the pace began to markedly quicken. The fourth quarter went in 23.19 seconds, at which point the sprinting really began – and no one sprinted home faster than Flintshire. Still second at the stretch call, he continued accelerating, and with Ironicus having gotten hung up in traffic, the race essentially was over a half-furlong from home.

Castellano kept busy, and Flintshire held steady, getting his 1 1/4 miles on a very firm, fast-playing course in 1:58.92. He paid $3.40 as the odds-on favorite.

“He’s a phenomenal, spectacular horse,” Castellano said.

Shug McGaughey, Ironicus’s trainer, gently rued his horse’s tough trip but was pleased with Ironicus’s performance and said the horse would be aimed at the Fourstardave at Saratoga.

As for Flintshire, there are no set plans right now, though his connections will work backward from the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and given the ease with which Flintshire won over 1 1/4 miles, Brown said he’d not be afraid to consider the Arlington Million in August.

Flintshire, a Juddmonte homebred, is a 6-year-old by Dansili and out of the Sadler’s Wells mare Dance Routine. He ran his career record to 20-6-10-1 and pushed his career earnings to more than $8.1 million.

Flintshire, racing with Lasix for the first time, never turned a hair on a hot, humid day and did everything right in the running. “Exuding class” is a racing cliché, but that’s the Flintshire vibe.

“He has an indescribable amount of class about him,” said Brown. “It’s little things. He’s just so intelligent, and you can pick that up very early on. He walks around the shed row like he’s the man – and he is the man.”