10/11/2011 3:14PM

Santa Anita: California Flag targets fourth Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint start

Shigeki Kikkawa
California Flag wins the Grade 3 Morvich Stakes for the third time in his career.

ARCADIA, Calif. – California Flag’s record third career win in the Grade 3 Morvich Stakes at Santa Anita on Monday could lead to his fourth consecutive appearance in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.

On Tuesday, trainer Brian Koriner stopped short of committing the 7-year-old California Flag to the BC Turf Sprint, wanting to see how the gelding reacts to the race in coming days.

“He’d had to show that he’s training great and throwing himself around,” Koriner said. “So far, everything has been good for him.”

California Flag won the 2009 BC Turf Sprint over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita, but was only eighth in the same race over five furlongs at Churchill Downs last year. In 2008, California Flag was 10th in the BC Turf Sprint at Santa Anita. The lure of another appearance in the $1 million race next month has appeal for Koriner and owner Barbara Card.

“We didn’t do very good last year, but it’s hard not to run for $1 million,” Koriner said. “He’s only going to be around so long. It’s a decision we have to make.”

California Flag won the Morvich in 2008 and 2009, but did not run in the race last year. On Monday, California Flag ($15.40) stalked pacesetter Excessive Passion to early stretch and won by a half-length over that rival. Camp Victory, the 4-5 favorite, could only manage fifth in the field of eight.

The Morvich was California Flag’s first win since the death of Barbara’s husband, Keith Card, in March. California Flag was bred by the Cards at their Hi Card Ranch in Murrietta, Calif.

◗ Santa Anita has launched a new website – santaanitalive.com – designed to promote nonracing aspects of the racetrack and provide racing information for beginners. Among the non-horse racing events the track hosts are a 5K run each spring on Santa Anita Derby Day and, beginning next year, concerts by the California Philharmonic during the spring and summer when live racing is not being conducted.