07/05/2012 4:16PM

Monmouth Park: Flat Out finally making local start

Barbara D. Livingston
Flat Out is now based in Saratoga with trainer Bill Mott.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – Isn’t it a bit odd to see Flat Out headlining the Grade 2, $200,000 Monmouth Cup on the United Nations undercard on Saturday at Monmouth Park?

After all, the handicap star spent last summer here with trainer Scooter Dickey and never once ran at Monmouth while scoring wins in the Suburban Handicap and Jockey Club Gold Cup, both at Belmont Park.

[MONMOUTH PARK: Get PPs and watch Saturday’s full card live]

Preston Stables, expressing a desire to see Flat Out develop more of a New York profile following a fifth-place finish in the Donn Handicap, transferred the 6-year-old to Hall of Famer Bill Mott.

Now that he is based in Saratoga and ready for his first race since the Donn, Flat Out finally turns up at Monmouth.

Mott explained it was a matter of circumstance and timing that landed Flat Out in this spot. A title defense in the Suburban on Saturday was considered and discarded in favor of a one-mile race over a track Flat Out knows very well.

“I felt we needed to get a race in him, and I didn’t think he was screwed down 100-percent tight, and I didn’t think he was probably ready for the mile and an eighth just yet,” Mott said. “That’s not to say that a flat mile can’t be a tough race. I just felt that our chances were a little bit better in there.”

Certainly the competition is lighter here than in the Suburban. The Monmouth Cup, formerly the Meadowlands Cup, had been run at 1 1/8 miles since 1990. It was shortened to replace the Salvator Mile on this year’s stakes schedule.

Flat Out’s five rivals are an uncoupled duo from trainer Todd Pletcher of San Pablo and Rule; Ponzi Scheme, winner of the Decathlon Stakes earlier this meet; Sloane Ranger, who captured the Don LeVine Memorial at Parx Racing only two weeks ago; and Cactus Charlie.

So far, Mott has enjoyed training Flat Out, a serious contender for Horse of the Year honors before finishing fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last November.

“He’s a cool horse, he’s nice to be around, fun to train,” Mott said. “Scooter had him and did well with him. The owners wanted him to be in New York, and I was the lucky recipient of him. I hope I can get him back to the good form when he ran his best races.”

_ additional reporting by David Grening