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Flat Out Makes Winning Return to Belmont in Westchester (G3)

By Jon Forbes | 04/27/2013 06:11 PM ET
Flat Out
PHOTO/Adam Coglianese

Flat Out improved his record to 4-for-4 at Belmont Park by wearing down favored Cross Traffic for a narrow victory in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Westchester for 3-year-olds and up.

Already a three-time graded stakes winner over “Big Sandy,” Flat Out was never far back as he raced in fourth along the backstretch within striking range of Cross Traffic, who ran the opening quarter-mile in 22.77 seconds while racing on a clear lead. Jockey Junior Alvarado took Flat Out to the four path on the far turn, and the reigning two-time winner of the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup moved up to second by the time they reached the quarter pole.

Trailing Cross Traffic by a half-length at that juncture, Flat Out was initially rebuffed by that rival before eventually forging his way to the front in a lengthy stretch battle, winning by a head.

Flat Out completed one mile in 1:32.99, the third-fastest Westchester in the race’s 85-year history.

“I tried to keep him a little bit closer because I knew that Javier’s horse [Cross Traffic] was the only real speed,” said Alvarado. “He broke well and I asked him a little bit. When I made the decision to go, at the three-eighths pole, he was still in hand. He kept cutting into the lead, little by little, but by the eighth pole I knew he had him. He’s a really good horse.”

A 7-year-old, Flat Out returned $7.70 for a $2 win wager as the 5-2 second choice. Cross Traffic’s defeat at even money help set up a two-day Pick 6 carryover of $95,411 into Sunday’s card.

Flat Out’s previous wins at Belmont all had come at distances beyond one mile. In 2011 he took the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at 1 1/8 miles and the Jockey Club Gold Cup at 1 ¼ miles. In October he added a second Gold Cup victory when he defeated Stay Thirsty by a head.

After winning the 2012 Gold Cup, Flat Out finished third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic in October at Santa Anita, fourth in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap in February at Gulfstream Park, and fifth in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap on March 30 at the Fair Grounds.

“He does have an affinity for this racetrack, and he showed it today,” said Leana Willaford, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. “He had won going a mile before. Sometimes when you shorten them up, they finish a little stronger. [Junior Alvarado] did a great job. He was aware [Cross Traffic] was the lone speed and didn’t let him get too far away.”

Flat Out, who carries the colors of Preston Stables, is 7-4-3 in 23 career starts. With the $90,000 winner’s share of the Westchester purse, the son of Flatter has now earned more than $2.6 million.

Rattlesnake Bridge finished third, 11 ¼ lengths behind the winner. Big Screen and Norman Asbjornson completed the order of finish. Mordi’s Miracle, Pants On Fire, and Winslow Homer were scratched.