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Flat Out Outfights Stay Thirsty To Score Repeat In G1 TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup

By Jenny Kellner | 09/29/2012 06:16 PM ET
Flat Out
PHOTO/Adam Coglianese

Returning to the scene of his greatest triumph, Flat Out battled pacesetter Stay Thirsty through the final yards and got a head in front at the wire to score a repeat victory in the Grade 1, $1 million TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup, the centerpiece of “Super Saturday” at Belmont Park.

The 6-year-old son of Flatter, winless in six starts since earning his first career Grade 1 in last year’s Gold Cup, stayed well back through the early going of the 1 ¼-mile race as Stay Thirsty led the field of 10 through a quarter-mile in 23.49 seconds. Picking off rivals and moving up steadily as the half went in 47.21, three-quarters in 1:11.96, and a mile in 1:36.41, Flat Out straightened for home in second and took dead aim on the front-runner, drawing alongside inside the furlong marker and prevailing only after a furious fight to the finish.

“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,” said Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who earlier in the day won the Grade 1 Beldame with Royal Delta, next to defend her title in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. “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 Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 3 at Santa Anita Park. The Preston Stables’ color-bearer, fifth in last year’s Classic, likely will be joined in California by stablemate 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.”

Also possible for the Classic are Stay Thirsty, the 2011 Grade 1 Travers winner, and third-place finisher and beaten favorite Fort Larned, who was 5 ½ lengths behind the top two.

“You have to look at the bright side,” said Fort Larned’s trainer, Ian Wilkes, who noted that Drosselmeyer – trained by Mott – and Blame both finished second in the Gold Cup before going on to win the Classic in 2011 and 2010, respectively. “My horse ran. He ran hard. I can’t be disappointed; I’m very happy with it.”

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 and earned $600,000. Overall, he is 6-4-2 from 19 career starts with earnings of $2,042,383.

Following Fort Larned under the wire were Atigun, Fast Falcon, Ron the Greek, Game Ball, Hymn Book, San Pablo and Ruler On Ice.