Preston Stables' Flat Out will make his first start for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott in the $200,000 Monmouth Cup Stakes (gr. III) July 7 at Monmouth Park, having been transferred from the barn of Scooter Dickey after a fifth-place finish in the Feb. 11 Donn Handicap (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park.
The winner of the 2011 Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) and Suburban Handicap (gr. II) tackles five others with less impressive credentials, but has not won a race since taking the Gold Cup. He ran fifth in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) in his final start of 2011 and was last of 12 in an ill-fated turf experiment in the Fort Lauderdale Stakes (gr. IIIT) Jan. 14.
"He had been given a freshening before I got him," Mott said of the 6-year-old son of Flatter , "so we're just bringing him back off of a short vacation. He had nearly 60 days off and we're just making our first run with him since we got him. We're trying to get ready for some of the bigger races down the road, but this would be a nice race to win, of course, a flat mile. At this point we need to get him started."
Flat Out has put in a steady series of forward works for Mott at Saratoga Race Course, including a trio of five-furlong moves in 1:01.12 June 25, 1:01.44 June 7, and 1:01.85 May 31. In preparation for the Monmouth Cup, he scaled back the breeze distance to four furlongs in :49.93 July 2. Jockey Rosie Napravnik gets the call from post 1 aboard the 2-1 favorite on the morning line, one of four horses assigned 116 pounds.
"He's been very willing, he's done what we wanted him to do, and although he's certainly not screwed down 100%, if he'll run well and come out of it good I think we'll be right where we need to be with him," Mott remarked.
The Monmouth Cup, supporting event on a card that features the $500,000 United Nations (gr. IT), is race 10 with an approximate post time of 5:17 p.m. EDT.
High weight in the field is Vicky Schowe's homebred Sloane Ranger, who carries 120 pounds wheeling back from victory by a neck in the seven-furlong Donald LeVine Memorial Handicap at Parx Racing June 23. The 6-year-old son of Parker's Storm Cat is trained by Martin Ciresa. Paco Lopez will ride from post 5.
Trainer Todd Pletcher entered both Rule and San Pablo for separate owners in the one-mile test.
Rule, a 5-year-old son of Roman Ruler owned by WinStar Farm, hasn't raced since a seventh-place finish in the Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II) last Oct. 8. He won the 2009 Boyd's Gaming Delta Jackpot Stakes (gr. III) and the 2010 Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III) as a 3-year-old, then remained winless until taking the Birdstone Stakes last August at Saratoga. Nevertheless, he has collected earnings of more than $1 million with on-the-board finishes in the 2011 Woodward Stakes (gr. I), Donn Handicap (gr. I), Hal's Hope Stakes (gr. III), and 2010 Florida Derby (gr. I). Joe Bravo will be in the saddle from post 6 on the outside.
San Pablo, a 4-year-old Jump Start colt owned by Burning Sands Stable, comes in on the heels of two tough defeats. He dueled all the way through the lane only to come up short by a nose in the As Indicated Stakes and then lost by a neck in the Excelsior Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack March 17.
"We gave Rule a bit of a freshening after last year to gear him up for the summer and fall campaigns," Pletcher said. "I think the distance of a mile will be good for him in his first start back. San Pablo is a nice horse who is very competitive and always runs hard. He's in good form now."
San Pablo has never finished out of the money in nine starts and has earned $222,800 from five wins, three seconds and one third. Joel Rosario rides the 5-2 second choice from the 3 hole.
John Koenig's locally-based stakes winner Ponzi Scheme exits a fifth-place finish in the LeVine for trainer Juan Serey. The 5-year-old Sunday Break runner made his first start of the year May 12, taking the six-furlong Decathalon Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths over Flat Bold. The race was marred by a spill involving five horses when favorite Zero Rate Policy took a bad step on the turn. Three others collided with the fallen rival, and one was forced to pull up, but no riders or horses were seriously injured in the accident.
Ponzi Scheme's most recent victory prior to his 12-1 upset was in the Joseph French Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park in June of 2011, that win following a score in the May 20 Skip Away Stakes at Monmouth. He carries 118 pounds, including Elvis Trujillo from post 4.
Cactus Charlie has started once in 2012 in the Skip Away, in which he finished third behind 2011 Louisiana Derby (gr. II) Pants On Fire and Norman Asbjornson for Happy Tenth Stable. John Tammarro III trains the 4-year-old son of Not For Love , who leaves the post 2 under Shannon Uske seeking his first score since an allowance win in April 2011.
$200,000 Monmouth Cup Stakes (gr. III, Race 10, 5:17 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 Mile
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds
1. Flat Out (FL), R. Napravnik, 116, Bill Mott, 2-1
2. Cactus Charlie (MD), S. Uske, 116, J J Tammaro III, 15-1
3. San Pablo (KY), J. Rosario, 116, T A Pletcher, 5-2
4. Ponzi Scheme (KY), E. Trujillo, 118, J Serey, 6-1
5. Sloane Ranger (PA), P. Lopez, 120, M E Ciresa, 8-1
6. Rule (KY), J. Bravo, 116, T A Pletcher, 8-5