Flat Out, the millionaire who dominated rivals in the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup earlier this month, was the first major Breeders’ Cup Classic contender to arrive at Churchill Downs when he settled into Barn 47 Tuesday evening following a flight from New York.
“He shipped well and he’s doing good,” said 70-year-old trainer Scooter Dickey, who trains the 5-year-old horse for Art Preston’s Preston Stables LLC.
The 28th Breeders’ Cup World Championships return to Churchill Downs for a record eighth time on Friday, Nov. 4 and Saturday, Nov. 5. The 15 championship races worth $26 million over two days culminate with the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic for 3-year-olds and up.
In addition to Flat Out, other expected headliners in the 1 ¼-mile Classic include Uncle Mo, the 2010 champion 2-year-old colt who missed this year’s Kentucky Derby with a rare liver ailment but returned to top form Oct. 1 with a swift three-length win in the Grade II Kelso Handicap; the star filly Havre de Grace, who has won five of six starts this season including a 1 ¼-length triumph over male rivals in the Grade I Woodward at Saratoga; and convincing Metropolitan and Whitney Handicap hero Tizway.
Flat Out, a Florida-bred bay son of Flatter, put together a string of four impressive performances this summer in New York that concluded with a 2 ¼-length victory in the mud over Drosselmeyer in Belmont Park’s $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup on Oct. 1 – a “Win and You’re In” race in which the Breeders’ Cup will pay entry fees to start and provide a $10,000 travel allowance. Flat Out’s summer campaign also included a win in the Grade II Suburban Handicap and runner-up efforts in the Grade I Whitney Handicap and Grade I Woodward.
“It’s been a great summer and he really ran well,” said Dickey, who was given his first taste of Grade I success after six decades as a trainer. “He’s the kind you want and the kind you hope to get.”
Prior to his four starts in the Empire State, Flat Out finished sixth behind Pool Play in Churchill Downs’ Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi. The Stephen Foster is the only time Flat Out has finished off-the-board in his 2011 campaign; however, Dickey does not believe it was because he didn’t handle the surface at the Louisville track.
“He’s always worked well here and he didn’t run a bad race in the Stephen Foster,” Dickey said. “The horses that finished well were all coming down the middle of the track and he (Flat Out) was on the rail. I just don’t think the rail was the place to be that day and if he were further outside he would have kept coming.”
Flat Out will return to the Churchill Downs track for the first time since June on Thursday and is expected to have a workout this weekend.
“He’ll go to the track tomorrow (Thursday) and gallop a mile and a half,” Dickey said. “I’ll work him sometime this weekend, but I’m not sure which day. It could be as early as Friday or as late as Monday. I want to wait and see how the weather is and make sure he is settled in completely before I breeze him. We’ll see how it goes, but I’ll probably give him one more solid work after that and then something really easy the week before (the Classic).”
Flat Out joins several other possible Breeders’ Cup contenders already in the Churchill Downs stable area. They include (with race, trainer and barn number):
- Aikenite (Dirt Mile or Sprint, Todd Pletcher, 34),
- Animal Spirits (Juvenile Turf, Al Stall Jr., 47)
- A.U. Miner (Marathon, Clark Hanna, 46)
- Chamberlain Bridge (Turf Sprint, Bret Calhoun, 22)
- Country Day (Turf Sprint, Steve Margolis, 23)
- Court Vision (Mile, Dale Romans, 4)
- Daddy Nose Best (Juvenile Turf, Steve Asmussen, 38)
- Dullahan (Juvenile or Juvenile Turf, Romans, 4)
- Flat Out (Classic, Scooter Dickey, 47)
- Giant Ryan (Sprint, Bisnath Parboo, 21)
- Hamazing Destiny (Sprint, Wayne Lukas, 44)
- Havelock (Turf Sprint, Darrin Miller, 41)
- Her Smile (F & M Sprint, Pletcher, 34)
- On Fire Baby (Juvenile Fillies, Gary Hartlage, 37)
- Optimizer (Juvenile or Juvenile Turf, Lukas, 44)
- Rocket Twentyone (Juvenile Fillies, Tom Howard, 32)
- Sassy Image (F & M Sprint, Romans, 4)
- Savvy Supreme (Ladies’ Classic, Pletcher, 34)
- Seeker (Juvenile Sprint, Asmussen, 38)
- Shackleford (Dirt Mile or Classic, Romans, 4)
- Sweet Cat (Juvenile Fillies Turf, Pletcher, 34)
- Trinniberg (Juvenile Sprint, Parboo, 21)
- Wilburn (Dirt Mile, Asmussen, 38).
Several other horses will converge on Churchill Downs in the coming weeks. Charter flights are scheduled for Oct. 24 (New York), Oct. 28 (California), Oct. 29 (New York), Oct. 30 (California), Oct. 31 (Maryland) and Nov. 1 (California). European charters are expected around the weekend of Oct. 29-30.
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