10/08/2009 11:00PM

Win points California Flag toward Turf Sprint


ARCADIA, Calif. - California Flag is right back where he was a year ago - bound for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint on Nov. 7 after a front-running win in the $100,000 Morvich Handicap at Santa Anita on Wednesday.

Last year, California Flag won the Morvich, but was only 10th in the BC Turf Sprint. This year, trainer Brian Koriner is confident that California Flag can run better in the Turf Sprint.

"I don't know he doesn't run 1, 2, or 3 in the Breeders' Cup," Koriner said. "He's sounder. I think he's doing better this year."

Ridden by Joe Talamo, California Flag ran about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course in 1:11.40, finishing a length in front of 10-1 Get Funky, the winner of the 2007 Morvich. California Flag fought off an early threat from Tenga Cat through early fractions of 21.55 and 43.04 seconds before Tenga Cat faded to finish fifth.

Bruce's Dream closed from eighth in a field of 10 to finish third. Desert Code, who won the BC Turf Sprint last year in a 36-1 upset, could only finish seventh. He was seventh in the 2009 Morvich.

The Morvich was part of the Breeders' Cup's Win and You're In program, guaranteeing an automatic berth to the BC Turf Sprint for the winner, contingent on the payment of entry fees.

California Flag is unbeaten in two starts this year. After winning the Grade 3 Hollywood Turf Express last fall, he underwent surgery to have a bone chip removed from an ankle. He won the Green Flash Handicap at five furlongs on turf at Del Mar on Aug. 19 in his first start of the year.

Owned by Keith Card, California Flag, a 5-year-old gelding, has won 7 of 15 starts and $412,996.