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Flat Out Takes Dickey On the Ride of His Life; BC Status of Northern Passion Still Uncertain

| Churchill Downs Communications | 10/18/2011 #
  • Breeders' Cup Classic contender Flat Out worked on the Churchill Downs turf in early summer. (Reed Palmer, CD)

  • Charles "Scooter" Dickey, trainer of Flat Out. (Reed Palmer, CD)

FLAT OUT TAKES DICKEY ON THE RIDE OF HIS LIFE – Trainer Scooter Dickey thought he had hit the top of the racing game long before Flat Out came into his barn.

“I had always hoped for a horse like this,” Dickey said Tuesday morning as Flat Out went to the track for his morning exercise under Otto Aguilar. “I thought I had reached the pinnacle in 1984 in the Preakness (with Wind Flyer). Gate Dancer beat me as far as he did in a maiden race, six lengths.”

Owned by Preston Stables, Flat Out came to Dickey in the summer of 2008 and made his debut at Churchill Downs that November, running sixth in a 6 ½-furlong race.

“We took three good babies to Saratoga that summer, but he did not get to run,” Dickey said. “The first time he ran, he ran green but he closed ground and the next time out he won at the Fair Grounds.”

A victory in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park in his 3-year-old debut put Flat Out on the Kentucky Derby trail and respectable showings in the Southwest and Arkansas Derby kept him there until a shoulder injury less than two weeks before the Run for the Roses ended that dream.

The shoulder injury and battles with persistent quarter cracks kept Flat Out away from the races for 20 months.

Did Dickey ever think of throwing in the towel?

“Only one time,” the 70-year-old native of Anthony, Kan., said. “We had brought him back after the shoulder had healed and the quarter cracks had healed. We were two or three works away (from a start) and that old quarter crack behind the wall blew out and they had to cut his foot away like they did with Big Brown and we had to give it time to grow back. That was the only time.”

After a victory in his return in December in New Orleans, Flat Out battled quarter cracks again before starting on a run that has propelled him to the upper echelon of the handicap ranks in North America and into a leading role for the Grade I, $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.“He just takes everything in stride,” Dickey said of Flat Out, who worked a bullet five furlongs in :59.80 last Saturday under Greta Kuntzweiler. “He just wants to go out there and work.”

There is a chance that Flat Out’s work may not be done after the Nov. 5 Classic.

“We haven’t really talked about it,” Dickey said of retiring Flat Out after the Classic. “But a while back I was talking with Art (Preston) and said ‘Remember when we worked him on the turf in case we didn’t go in the Stephen Foster but the Firecracker instead and he worked really good?’ He said we ought to try him on the turf some time and point to the Arlington Million next year. I told him, ‘I like the way you think.’ ”

NO DECISION YET FOR NORTHERN PASSION AFTER HALF-MILE WORK – In her first work over a dirt surface, John Oxley’s Northern Passion, winner of the Grade III Natalma on turf at Woodbine in her most recent start, breezed four furlongs in :51.80 over a fast Churchill Downs track Tuesday morning under regular exercise rider Melanie Giddings in preparation for the GII $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf or the GI $2 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

"She went off the first eighth (of a mile) in about :14 (officially :13.80),” assistant trainer Norman Casse said. “It was her first time not working in company so she didn’t really know what was going on at the beginning. The important thing is that she finished strong and she looked good. We’re happy.”

Northern Passion was awarded an automatic berth in the starting gate for the Juvenile Fillies Turf following her victory in the Natalma, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race; however, she could appear in the Juvenile Fillies on the dirt if she shows enough potential over the surface in the mornings.

“The slow time is just a reflection of the slow opening eighth,” Casse said. “I think she handled the dirt fine and she’s already won on two surfaces so I don’t know why she wouldn’t be able to handle the dirt. Also, my dad (Mark) has always said the Churchill surface is very comparable to Polytrack. A lot of turf and synthetic horses seem to like it on this dirt more than anywhere else.”

The Casse barn has had success this year with horses trying the Churchill dirt for the first time after previously racing exclusively on turf and synthetic surfaces, including a victory in the GI Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi with Pool Play.

Northern Passion, a $220,000 OBS Selected 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale purchase, will have another work on the dirt beneath the Twin Spires early next week before a final decision is made on her next start.

“Dad is coming to Kentucky next week for the Fasig-Tipton yearling sale and she’ll work while he is here,” Casse said. “That’s when we’ll decide where to go.”

Spirited Miss, another 2-year-old filly in the Casse barn who races under the Oxley colors, is also being considered for the Juvenile Fillies Turf and Juvenile Fillies. The bay daughter of Sky Mesa ran fourth to her stablemate in the Natalma prior to finishing second in the Mazarine at Woodbine in her most recent start. She is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Tuesday and will be stabled in Barn 24. There are currently no plans for when she will first work over the Louisville track.

BARN TALK – Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence’s Sum of the Parts worked five furlongs in 1:03.40 before the renovation break and trainer Tom Amoss said the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint “is a possibility” for the colt. Amoss also said that Jerry Namy’s Shared Property, winner of the GIII Arlington-Washington Futurity and sixth as the favorite in the GI Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity, would not run in the Breeders’ Cup. “We are going to do something a little less ambitious,” Amoss said of Shared Property, who is nominated to the GIII, $100,000-added Iroquois at a mile on Oct. 30. “We think he will be his best as a 3-year-old and we are going to take a little time with him.” …

Kendall Hansen’s Hansen, undefeated winner of the Kentucky Cup Juvenile at Turfway Park on Sept. 24 by 13 ¼ lengths, worked five furlongs at the Trackside Training Center. Trained by Mike Maker, Hansen is a possible hopeful for the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. …

C R K Stable’s Switch, one of the leading prospects for the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, worked a half-mile in :47.40 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01 at Keeneland Tuesday morning. Switch is scheduled to van to Churchill Downs on Wednesday. 

C.R. Trout, owner-breeder and trainer of Shotgun Gulch, said the 4-year-old Oklahoma-bred filly is scheduled to van to Churchill Downs on Oct. 29 from Remington Park for a run in the $1 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint to be run Nov. 4. Winner of the GI Vinery Madison at Keeneland in April, Shotgun Gulch finished fifth in the GI Humana Distaff in May in her lone start at Churchill Downs. …

Camp Victory, winner of the Los Angeles Handicap who was second in both the Triple Bend Handicap and Pat O’Brien this year, has been confirmed for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint by trainer Mike Mitchell.  He  will be ridden by eight-time Churchill Downs leading rider Julien Leparoux. …

Marketing Mix, runner-up to Together-IRE in the GI Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland, is scheduled to make her next start in the GII Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs on Nov. 12. Trainer Tom Proctor had previously stated that Marketing Mix would be given the rest of the year off. “What changed my mind?” Proctor said. “$175,000.” …       

Chamberlain Bridge, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint over the Matt Winn Turf Course, is scheduled to work on the main track beneath the Twin Spires on Wednesday morning; however, inclement weather could push the work back to Thursday. …

Nominations for four graded stakes races to be run at Churchill Downs over Breeders’ Cup weekend will close Wednesday. The eighth running of the GIII, $100,000-added Commonwealth Turf for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course will be contested on Thursday, Nov. 3. The 19th running of the GIII, $100,000-added Ack Ack Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on the main track will be part of the undercard on Breeders’ Cup Friday. The 26th running of the GII, $150,000-added Chilukki for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up at one mile on the main track will be contested on Breeders’ Cup Saturday. The 38th running of the GIII, $100,000-added Cardinal Handicap for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course will be run Sunday, Nov. 6.

WORKTAB – Gaillardia Racing LLC’s Wilkinson, a 3-year-old graded stakes winning son of Lemon Drop Kid who was third in the Grade I Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park in his most recent start, breezed four furlongs in :50 Tuesday morning for trainer Neil Howard.