Gold Mark Farm’s Backtalk charged past Flatter Than Me inside the sixteenth pole to win the 108th running of the $110,500 Bashford Manor Stakes (GIII) for 2-year-olds by a length at Churchill Downs on Friday.
Ridden by Miguel Mena and trained by Tom Amoss, Backtalk covered the six furlongs on a fast main track in 1:11.08 in defeating seven rivals. The victory was worth $66,455 and increased Backtalk’s earnings to $90,095 for two wins in two starts.
Soundman, ridden by Jamie Theriot, was quickest out of the gate and led the field through the first quarter-mile in :21.98 and the half-mile in :45.84 with Flatter Than Me in closest pursuit under Robby Albarado. Mena had Backtalk about five lengths off the lead racing in a pack with Grand Slam Andre and Brassy Boy.
Entering the stretch, Flatter Than Me surged past Soundman. Mena angled Backtalk out from behind Flatter Than Me and squeezed by on the inside of Grand Slam Andre for clear sailing to draw clear and give Amoss his second victory in the race to go with Lone Star Sky’s triumph in 2002.
Backtalk is a son of 2004 Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones out of the Affirmed mare Apasionata Sonata and a half-brother to graded stakes winner Bsharpsonata. With the victory, Backtalk became the first U.S. graded stakes winner for Smarty Jones.
Backtalk returned payoffs of $3.60, $2.60 and $2.20. Flatter Than Me paid $3.60 and $3.20 in finishing 1 ½ lengths ahead of Brassy Boy, who paid $4 to show under Corey Lanerie. Completing the field in order were Grand Slam Andre, Soundman, Westrock Gold, Vito Filitto and Even Wilder.
Racing resumes Saturday with an 11-race program beginning at 12:45 p.m. (all times EDT). Highlighting the card will be the 19th running of the $150,000-added Firecracker Handicap (Grade II) featuring defending champion Thorn Song in the eight-horse lineup. The Firecracker goes as Race 10 with a 5:29 p.m. post time.
POST-RACE QUOTES – THE BASHFORD MANOR
TOM AMOSS, trainer of BACKTALK (winner)
“I really thought that the extra distance going to six furlongs would be a benefit to him based on how he ran the first time. Around the turn, I wasn’t so sure that he was into it. A lot of that is education and the fact that it was only his second start. When he got out of tight quarters and when he was in the clear you saw him spurt and I think that’s a real positive sign for the future and more distance. We’ll see where it leads us.”
Q: He had to overcome a lot today . . .
“It was a rough trip. He stumbled out of the gate and he was in tight quarters and had to bull his way through down the lane. I was watching it live and . . . I hoped the trip was clean enough and that we didn’t have a problem. Fortunately, it was. Look, this was a great learning experience for him and it will help him moving forward.”
Q: Is his large size a benefit when in tight quarters?
“It had to. You know, to get in there and make room for himself, his size has to be a big part of it.
“You know Smarty Jones was the first Derby winner that I asked a trainer if I could come see him. I did that the day after the [2004 Kentucky] Derby. I went in the stall with him and he was much more refined than this horse. This horse is a much bigger horse than Smarty Jones was. But that’s about the only thing they got in common.
“Smarty Jones needed a good horse and hopefully this is it.”
Q: What’s next?
“Oh, I don’t know. We’ll sit down together as a team and make some decisions together.”
MIGUEL MENA, jockey of BACKTALK (winner)
“My horse stumbled out of the gate, but luckily he got on his feet. I was kind of worried because he was running so green between horses. He has so much talent and when I asked him to run he really gave it to me and responded very well. He is such a great horse. He is going to keep learning and have a bright future.”
MERRILL SCHERER, trainer of FLATTER THAN ME (runner-up)
“He ran good, but the winner is an unbeaten horse – you never know what he is.”
Q: What will you do with Flatter Than Me?
“I’ll take him to Saratoga and try ‘em. You might as well get beat by the best. He deserves a chance against those horses.”
ROBBY ALBARADO, jockey on FLATTER THAN ME (runner-up)
“He ran a great race. He’s got a lot of potential to be a very nice horse. He’s fast enough and he rates kindly. He’s got all the keys to be a good one.”
Q: Were you surprised that he rated so well – he showed so much speed in his earlier races?
“He’s a deceptive horse for as big as he is. If he can harness some of that speed I think he’ll go a lot further and be a better horse.”
Q: Did you think Flatter Than Me was a winner in upper stretch?
“Oh yeah, no doubt – when I kicked for home I thought he was a winner. That’s taking nothing away from the winner – he’s a very nice horse. He’s a very nice Smarty Jones colt – and Smarty Jones liked this track.”
HAL WIGGINS, trainer of BRASSY BOY (third)
“I think he’s going to be OK. He might be a step below these. I thought (Tom) Amoss’ horse (Backtalk) ran a big, big race, and Merrill (Scherer)’s horse (Flatter Than Me) run a big race – he broke bad last time and I thought he would run good. Amoss’ horse finished very, very strong –- he’s gonna be the horse that comes out of this bunch, I believe.”
Q: What will you do with Brassy Boy now?
“I don’t know – we might give him a little break. I’ll kind of look around and see. The little colt tried. He was closer earlier than I thought he’d be, but Corey (Lanerie) said he’s kind of learning. He doesn’t know what to do quite yet and he put himself into it a little early, but he’s going to be all right. We’ll have some fun with him.”
SHAUN BRIDGMOHAN, jockey on GRAND SLAM ANDRE (fourth)
“When he broke he made a left-hand turn, but once he straightened up he was good.”
Q: He ran well after that – did you ever think you had a chance after that start?
“Down the backside I got him to the outside and he grabbed the bridle a little bit and was starting to do things the right way. Even in the middle of the turn, I still had horse and I was sitting on him, but for a young horse it was a lot to overcome.”