For a horse like Royal Flag that tends to take back before being asked for run later in the race, breaking from the outside post of seven in a one turn race at 1 1/8 miles is hardly cause for concern. And for a horse as talented, strong, and speedy as Royal Flag, staying in that wide path for nine furlongs, as it turns out, isn’t much of a worry, either.
In the $250,000 Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park Oct. 10, jockey Joel Rosario kept the 5-year-old mare well off the rail and in the clear up the backstretch at Belmont, looping four wide around the final turn before turning her loose. Accelerating at the three-eighths pole, she took command a furlong later, sailing down the middle of the track to win by 4 1/4 lengths in a final time of 1:50.02 on a track labeled good. The post-time favorite paid $3.40 for a $2 win bet.
The win edged Rosario one step closer to tying the late Garrett Gomez’s record for stakes wins in a year, set in 2007 when Gomez won 76 stakes races. Rosario won two races at Belmont Sunday, the other being the Grade 3 Futurity Stakes on Slipstream. Through Sunday, he has 64 black-type wins for the year.
“I wanted to be out there,” said Rosario of running wide. “When she passes horses, she can hang a little bit. I feel like if I get her away from them, she’s more focused at that point. So, I stayed out there. If she has another horse there [beside her], she’ll just stay there. It looked like she was very comfortable, and we were just waiting for the time to come out and let her do her thing.”
“This year Royal Flag has obviously taken a big step forward,” said Dan Stupp, winning trainer Chad Brown’s assistant. “She’s trained better than ever and she’s been to all of our divisions. Everyone has done a great job of developing her. She’s in peak form and Rosario gets along quite well with her.
“I’m sure the Farishes are thrilled with her progress as well and the black type that Chad has been able to develop into her. We’ll see what’s next for her. Off that race, I’m sure Chad and Mr. Farish will consider the Breeders’ Cup [Distaff]. We’ll get her back and see how she comes out of it, and they’ll come up with a plan.”
Royal Flag improved her record to six wins, three seconds, and three thirds from 12 starts and pushed her earnings to $573,020. She is by Candy Ride, who stands at Farish’s Lane’s End Farm and was advertised for a $75,000 fee in 2021.
Breeders’ Cup Next for Slipstream, But Which Race?
Jump Sucker Stable’s Slipstream, patiently piloted by Joel Rosario, saved all the ground before tipping out in late stretch to notch a one-length score in Sunday’s $150,000 Futurity Stakes, a six-furlong inner turf sprint for 2-year-olds at Belmont Park.
The victory earned Slipstream a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 2, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, a five-furlong test at Del Mar on Nov. 5, but trainer Christophe Clement said he would prefer to stretch the colt out to one-mile in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
“If it’s up to me, yes,” Clement said. “We have to see how he comes out of it and be sure the owners are on board and that everything goes well.”—Courtesy of NYRA