Flat Out became the second Florida-bred and the 11th horse in history to win the prestigious TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) in back-to-back years Saturday when he out dueled Stay Thirsty to take the winner’s share of the $1,000,000 purse. The 6-year-old son of Flatter not only joined Mad Hatter (1921-22), Dark Secret (1933-34), Nashua (1956-57), Kelso (1960-64), Shuvee (1970-71), Slew o Gold (1983-84), Crème Fraiche (1986-87), Florida-bred Skip Away (1996-97) and Curlin (2007-08) as consecutive winners of the Gold Cup, but it snapped a six-race winless streak that dates back to his victory in the race last year.
Trained by Bill Mott for Preston Stables LLC of Houston, Tex., Flat Out broke evenly from post position nine in the 1 ¼-mile Gold Cup and settled into sixth-place along the rail while the trio of Stay Thirsty, Ruler On Ice and San Pablo went the first two furlongs in a solid :23.49. As the half-mile fraction of :47.21 flashed on the tote board as they headed down the backstretch, jockey Joel Rosario apparently wanted Flat Out closer to the pace and rushed him into the fifth spot, inside favorite Fort Larned and closer to the leaders as they went into the far turn.
Around the turn, Stay Thirsty hung tough on the lead as Fort Larned challenged while San Pablo and Ruler on Ice fell out of contention. Then Flat Out rolled up three-wide as they straightened away for home. Stay Thirsty on the rail fought off Fort Larned with a furlong to go but Flat Out remained in the chase as they went into the final furlong. With the finish line drawing near, Stay Thirsty looked to be a winner inside the last 110 yards but Flat Out put in one final surge at the wire and as track announcer Tom Durkin called it, “Flat Out got it by a flared nostril.”
“It looked like [jockey Joel Rosario] let him pick off a couple of horses on the backside, and he was doing it under a hold,” Hall of Famer Bill Mott said. “That was a good thing. He hadn’t asked him to run. The horse was just striding out and picking up horses. That other horse [Stay Thirsty] fought on pretty well. Todd [Pletcher] looked like he had him ready today. We just had ours a little more ready. And it wasn’t by much.”
Flat Out’s winning time was 2:01.44 for the “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, which earned him an automatic, fees-paid berth in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on November 3 at Santa Anita Park. Flat Out, fifth in last year’s Classic, likely will be joined in California by stablemate and fellow Florida-bred Ron the Greek, who finished sixth.
“We have to see,” said Mott of Ron the Greek, who won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in March. “Hopefully it will be the case where he just had an off day. We know that he likes Santa Anita and maybe five weeks from now it will be his day. You can’t ever count him out.”
Flat Out was bred in Florida by Nikolaus Bock of Naperville, Ill., and increased his career earnings to $2,042,383, passing the 25th-ranked Zofolia on the all-time list of Florida-bred money earners and becoming the 26th horse bred in the Sunshine State to eclipse the $2 million mark.
Flat Out, formerly trained by Charles “Scooter” Dickey, finished second in his first start for Mott, the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup in July, and third behind Fort Larned and Ron the Greek in the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap on August 4 at Saratoga Race Course.
“He ran a huge race last time,” said Mott of Flat Out. “You couldn’t have asked the horse to run any better than he did the last time out. He’s a relatively fresh horse; he had a little break late spring, and he was up for it today.”
The 7-2 third choice, Flat Out paid $9.30 for a $2 win bet, $5.60 to place and $4.00 to show. Overall, he is 6-4-2 from 19 career starts. Stay Thirsty returned $10.80 to place and $6.70 to show while Fort Larned paid $4.00 to show.
Photo by Coglianese