Flat Out Tops Field for G2 Suburban Handicap
By Jenny Kellner | 07/03/2013 05:37 PM ET
Two years ago, Flat Out was the longest shot on the board at 13-1 when he rolled to a 6 ½-length victory in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park, his first graded stakes score.
In Saturday’s $350,000 Suburban, Flat Out is the even-money favorite on the morning line to join a handful of horses with two Suburban wins on their resume, most recently Devil His Due, who won back-to-back editions in 1993-94.
Since his win in the 2011 Suburban, Flat Out, now 7, has compiled a record of 3-3-4 from 15 straight graded stakes appearances, with all three wins coming at Belmont. The son of Flatter went on to win the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and this year took the Grade 3 Westchester before his streak ended with a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap.
“We didn’t get it done in the Met Mile, which we wanted to, and maybe we’d give him another opportunity here,” said Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who trains Flat Out for Preston Stables. “I would think the Suburban might not be as tough as the Met Mile was. If we were to wait for the Whitney [Grade 1, August 3, Saratoga] we’d have to wait another month and I’m not sure the horse needs another month.”
Junior Alvarado will be aboard Flat Out when he leaves from post position 4 for the 1 1/8-mile race.
Looking to extend a six-race winning streak is John Gunther’s Last Gunfighter, unbeaten since breaking his maiden facing older horses last October in his first start for trainer Chad Brown. The First Samurai colt subsequently won an optional claimer and the Raymond Earl overnight stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack to close out his 3-year-old campaign, and this year has strung together victories in the Evening Attire, the Grade 3 Excelsior – both at the Big A – and the Grade 3 Pimlico Special.
“The horse has done nothing wrong since we got him,” said trainer Chad Brown of Last Gunfighter, who was 0-2-2 in his first four starts. “There are a lot of nice horses in the race, and we hope that he keeps inching forward. If he does, he should be competitive.”
As the 2-1 second choice on the morning line, Last Gunfighter will be ridden by Javier Castellano from post position 3.
Alpha, the other Grade 1 winner in the Suburban field, is 5-1 on the morning line as he makes his first North American start of 2013. Last of 12 in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge – Round 2 in February and fifth in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile in March, last year’s co-winner of the Grade 1 Travers has been training forwardly at Saratoga Race Course and the Greentree Training Center.
“His last race was better [than the first] this year,” said Kiaran McLaughlin of the 4-year-old Godolphin color-bearer, who will run with blinkers off. “He’s still maturing, and he looks great.”
Alpha will leave from the rail with Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the irons.
Fast Falcon, who was a neck behind Alpha and Golden Ticket in the 2012 Travers, enters the Suburban in search of his first stakes win. Third in the Grade 2 Brooklyn last time out, the Awesome Again colt missed by a nose when second to Percussion in the Albert the Great overnight stakes at Belmont on May 12, and prior to that was second in an optional claimer in February at Gulfstream Park.
“He’s a trier,” said Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito of Fast Falcon, who carries the colors of Richard C. Pell. “He’s been running well. He always tries, so we’ll see what happens.”
Cornelio Velasquez will ride Fast Falcon, 10-1 on the morning line, from post position 5.
Completing the field is Percussion, who after winning the Albert the Great led to the final 70 yards of the Grade 2, 1 ½-mile Brooklyn Handicap on June 7 and finished second by a length. The 5-year-old son of Bluegrass Cat is 3-1-0 from five starts for Todd Pletcher, who took over his training earlier this year, with his only off-the-board outing a fourth-place finish after setting the pace in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic.
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will ride Percussion, 6-1 on the morning line, from post position 2.
The field for the Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban Handicap: