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Features - RACING

Flat Out drew away to win the Suburban Handicap on Saturday at Belmont Park. (Photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese/NYRA)

By Tom Pedulla, America’s Best Racing

ELMONT, N.Y. – Not many sights in sports are more pleasing than watching a high-caliber Thoroughbred who is aging gracefully.

Perhaps that is why trainer Bill Mott was the picture of contentment after Flat Out drew off to win the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap by 2 ½ lengths against Last Gunfighter on Saturday at Belmont Park.

“You’ve got to appreciate the old runners, especially when they are still at this level,” Mott said.

The hard-knocking 7-year-old performed at such a high level in what is expected to be his final season that the connections may point him toward the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational on Aug. 3 at Saratoga Race Course.

“If he would be doing extremely well, I would say we might take a shot at the Whitney,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “I suppose that makes some sense, and then try to get him back here for the [Jockey Club] Gold Cup this fall.”

The son of Flatter would be pointed toward the Woodward Stakes on Aug. 31 at Saratoga if that timing will work better to prepare him for the Gold Cup, a race he won the last two years at Belmont. Given that the Suburban represented his fifth victory in six starts at this massive oval, it is fair to say he has an affinity for the track.

Unfortunately for Flat Out, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships have not been held here in recent years. He finished fifth in the Classic at Churchill Downs in 2011 and took third in that event, seven lengths behind winner Fort Larned, at Santa Anita last autumn.

For now, the Classic is not on Mott’s radar screen.

“We’d have to consider going if he won the Jockey Club Gold Cup again,” he said. “But that’s a long way off, and it’s hard to know what the track would be like in California.”

Flat Out looked very much the part of an accomplished veteran on a surface he relishes in the way he handled the $350,000 Suburban. He overcame a bobble at the start to sit comfortably in second off pacesetting Percussion as part of a field of five.

Although Flat Out was closer to the front than usual, Mott was not concerned.

“We wanted to keep him in the race,” he said. “I think it probably had to do with running him in two flat mile races before this. That probably sharpened his speed a bit.”

Flat Out blew past Percussion the instant jockey Junior Alvarado gave him his cue. He was never threatened as the heavy favorite during the stretch run in paying $4 for a $2 win wager. Last Gunfighter, under a stout drive from Javier Castellano, rallied for second with Fast Falcon slipping back to third.

“I thought he ran great. He was second best,” trainer Chad Brown said of Last Gunfighter. “Not only did Flat Out run well, he looked great in the paddock and acted perfectly in the paddock.

“When you are running against a horse like that, you have a lot of respect for them. I was observing him to see if there were any chinks in the armor, but Bill had him dead on.”

For an Equibase chart, click here.


Flat Out Inside

Photo courtesy of Joe Labozzetta

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