Trainer David Bernstein admitted he was stunned when Unfurl The Flag equaled Spectacular Bid's 1980 Santa Anita track record of 1:20 for seven furlongs Saturday when he won an optional claiming race by 4 ½ lengths under jockey Mike Smith.
A 4-year-old California-bred gelding by Bertrando out of Escape the Storm, by Storm Cat, Unfurl The Flag took command after a quarter mile in :22.08, then increased his lead, going the half in :44.11 and six furlongs in 1:07.88 under 118 pounds. His final time was 1:20.11.The track was lightning fast all day. For example, $25,000 claiming fillies went six furlongs in 1:08.37 in the ninth race.Unfurl The Flag's final time tied Spectacular Bid's mark in the Malibu Stakes on Jan. 5, 1980. The Bid, ridden by the late Bill Shoemaker, won by five lengths under 126 pounds and was the 3-10 favorite in a field of five. He earned $47,800 from a purse of $75,000. Unfurl The Flag earned $40,560 from a purse of $62,296. Times were not split into hundredths of a second in 1980."Of course I was surprised," Bernstein said. "Anytime your horse equals a record by Spectacular Bid, you have to be stunned. But the horse has been training super fast. Mike has been telling me the horse has as much talent as any sprinter he's been on since he's been in the game. Yesterday he put it all together."(Chart, Equibase)