By Jon Forbes | 01/15/2011 02:44 PM ET
While Flashpoint may not always be the best behaved colt, he certainly has speed, which he demonstrated today with a sharp debut victory at Aqueduct Racetrack.
He becomes the first horse in 2011 to join the New York Watch list, which profiles up-and-comers that have recently cleared the maiden ranks at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course.
Away alertly from post position one, Flashpoint cleared on the lead and was tracked by odds-on favorite Simba’s Story through fractions of 22.89 and 45.98. Jockey Cornelio Velasquez shook the reins at Flashpoint as they turned for home, and the colt answered by drawing away to a 6 ¼-length score, completing the six furlongs on the inner track in 1:09.68.
“He’s a big, strapping colt and is as strong as a bull,” said John Fort, president of Peachtree Stable, the operation that owns Flashpoint. “He’s not a hyper horse. He won’t flip on top of you, but he will run right over you.”
Fort bought Flashpoint, a 3-year-old son of two-time Grade 1-winning sprinter Pomeroy, for $100,000 at the 2009 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
“He was probably the last thing I was looking for because I usually don’t buy sprinters,” said Fort. “He was kind of a big bully as a yearling, but you could tell that he was going to grow into that frame. I decided to take a shot on a horse that was different than the type I usually buy, which is usually more of a classic-type horse.”
Even though Fort saw the colt misbehave before he entered into the sales ring, he went forward with the purchase.
“His manners were absolutely terrible,” recalled Fort. “A girl was leading him in the paddock where they keep the horses before they go into the ring, and he knew he could boss her around. Bob Baffert was standing there with me, and I said to him, ‘I’m about to buy that horse. What do you think?’ And he said, ‘I don’t think Barry [Eisaman of Eisaman Equine] will be able to break that horse!’”
With patient handling by Eisaman and trainer Rick Dutrow, the strong-willed colt developed into a 3-year-old who was mentally and physically ready to run a big race on debut.
“I told Rick he has done great a job with this horse,” said Fort. “One of the smartest training moves he has ever made was blowing him out [four furlongs in 49.13] two days before the race. Most of these trainers want to bring them over fresh, but he wanted to take the edge off him.”
Fort said Flashpoint will join Dutrow’s string at Gulfstream Park next week and will train toward a start in the seven-furlong Grade 2 Hutcheson on February 12. Should he perform well in that race, the colt will return to New York and will likely target other sprint stakes races for 3-year-olds.
“At this point we’re not thinking about the Kentucky Derby because we don’t think he’s that type of horse,” said Fort. “I think he is a fast horse, and there’s nothing wrong with winning one of those sprint races in Saratoga. We’ll pick our spots.”
Flashpoint’s sire won three of those Saratoga sprints himself, winning the 2004 Grade 1 King’s Bishop for 3-year-olds, the 2005 Grade 2 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, and the 2006 Grade 1 Forego. The sophomore’s dam, Two Punch Lil, won sprint stakes at Pimlico and Laurel and has produced two sons who are stakes-placed in Japan.
Horses previously featured in the New York Watch series include Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Uncle Mo; Boys at Tosconova, victorious in the Three Chimneys Hopeful and second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile; More Than Real, who took the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf; Breeders’ Futurity hero J. B.’s Thunder; and To Honor and Serve, who swept the Nashua and Remsen. Other graded stakes winners on the New York Watch list are Eightyfiveinafifty, Position Limit, and Winter Memories.