Flashing, thought to be making the final start of her career, popped the gate in front and never looked back, drawing away from Unrivaled Belle through the stretch drive to easily win the $300,000 Gazelle Stakes (gr. I) by 4 1/4 lengths at Aqueduct Nov. 28 (VIDEO).
Godolphin's 3-year-old daughter of A.P. Indy made her two-turn debut in the 1 1/8-mile Gazelle, coming home in 1:50.94 over a track rated fast but playing sluggishly. Flashing is to be retired to the breeding shed next year, it was announced earlier. But immediately after the race, winning trainer Saeed bin Suroor wasn't quite so sure.
"The nine furlong distance was perfect for her," bin Suroor said. "We’re going to talk it over and maybe she will race next year.”
Flashing won Saratoga's seven-furlong Test (gr. I) in August and was switching back to dirt following consecutive losses on synthetic tracks, including a 12th-place finish in Keeneland's Raven Run (gr. II) in her most recent try Oct. 24.
"When she was able to shake away from (Unrivaled Belle) it was great," said assistant Godolphin trainer Rick Mettee. "It was the first time she’s run nine furlongs and maybe that’s what she’s wanted all along. Saeed was right not wanting to send her out to California (for the Breeders' Cup). It was the right thing to do to keep her here and keep her fresh. She rewarded us today and validated that grade I win up at Saratoga (the Test) and showed it was no fluke.”
Richard Migliore guided the chestnut filly to victory. Flashing was first at every call, with Unrivaled Belle second. Bon Jovi Girl, fourth early, improved mildly to finish third.
Multiple grade I winner Stardom Bound, last year's champion juvenile filly making her first start in nearly eight months, broke awkwardly and was last early in the field of eight as the narrow choice over Unrivaled Belle. After making a slight bid on the final turn, the 122-pound high weight flattened out to finish fifth.
“The seven horse (Peach Brew) broke into me at the start and she stumbled," jockey Mike Smith said of the favorite. "I took back, and she was fine going into the turn. But she was so fresh, she wanted to make it all up in a matter of jumps. I tried to get her to settle. If I had let her go on, she probably would have gotten second, but it would have been very grueling for her, coming off the layoff. She’ll improve from this race.”
Breaking from post 2, Flashing went directly to the front and led Unrivaled Belle comfortably through quarter-mile fractions of :24.24, :48.73 and 1:12.90. Leaving the quarter pole, Flashing looked fresh while Unrivaled Belle, ridden by Kent Desormeaux was being asked to keep pace. In the homestretch, Flashing got away and there were no threats as she held sway under good handling.
“When she gets to get comfortable and get in a rhythm, she seems like she can run forever," Migliore said. "I know everybody was a little concerned that she might go too quick, but she’s really settled so well for me in the mornings. As long as you don’t get into a fight with her, she kind of tucks herself up and goes on like a little deer. I knew at the three-eighths pole she was going to be very tough. The two times I rode her on conventional dirt I won grade Is on her, so obviously I love her.”
Unrivaled Belle, making her graded stakes debut while on a three-race winning streak, was a clear second by 2 1/2 lengths over Bon Jovi Girl, ridden by Edgar Prado. Milwaukee Appeal finished fourth, followed by Stardom Bound, Me Love, Multipass and Peach Brew.
Flashing earned $180,000 for her sixth win in 10 starts and boosted her total prize money to $633,226. Besides the Test, Flashing also won the Nassau County (gr. III) in the mud at Belmont Park in May as part of a five-for-nine 2009 campaign.
Gainsborough Farm bred Flashing in Kentucky. She is out of the Machiavellian mare Morning Pride.
Sent off as the third choice, Flashing carried 115 pounds and paid $8.50, $4.40 and $3.10, with the $2 exacta worth $33.20. Unrivaled Belle returned $3.40 and $3. Bon Jovi Girl was $4.50 to show.