Flashpoint makes his synthetic surface debut in the Phoenix.

Flashpoint makes his synthetic surface debut in the Phoenix.

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Flashpoint Tackles Elders in Phoenix Stakes

The grade II Polytrack stakes attracted seven sprinters on Keeneland's opening day.

Peachtree Stable’s Flashpoint will hope the inside post is kinder to him this time around when he faces six competitors in the $175,000 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes (gr. III) Oct. 7, opening day of the Keeneland fall meet.

The Phoenix is a "Win and You're In" race for the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at six furlongs Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.

Flashpoint, who has sharp early speed, drew the rail for the six-furlong Phoenix and will make his debut on a synthetic surface. Trained by Wesley Ward, Flashpoint shipped to Keeneland in mid-September and has since turned in two fastest-of-the-day five-furlong works.

Cornelio Velasquez, who has ridden Flashpoint in all six of his starts including victories in the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) and Jersey Shore Stakes (gr. III), is named to ride at 120 pounds. Flashpoint will face older horses for the first time as the lone 3-year-old in the field.

In his last start, the Aug. 27 King’s Bishop Stakes (gr. I) at seven furlongs at Saratoga, Flashpoint (by Pomeroy) had to gun from the rail and was dueled into submission in a race in which the top two finishers were Caleb's Posse   and Uncle Mo . His two stakes victories came when he was able to rate just off the lead outside of horses.

Dogwood Stable’s Aikenite , winner of the Commonwealth Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland in April, is the 122-pound high weight and potential favorite in the Phoenix. Trained by Todd Pletcher and to be ridden by John Velazquez, Aikenite rallied strongly for third in the seven-furlong Forego Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Sept. 3.

Four-year-old Aikenite (by Yes It's True) has shown a liking for the Keeneland Polytrack, having won twice and finished second once in four starts.

An intriguing newcomer is Mrs. S.K. Johnston Jr.’s New Zealand-bred gelding Hoofit, who shipped from Down Under earlier this year and began training with Graham Motion at Fair Hill Training Center, which has a Tapeta surface. Hoofit was a minor stakes winner in New Zealand.

On Sept. 2 at Presque Isle Downs & Casino, which also has a Tapeta surface, Hoofit, a 4-year-old by Mossman, made his United States debut. He swept by the rest of the field after quick fractions and won the 5 1/2-furlong allowance race in a sharp 1:03.20.

Edgar Prado is named to ride Hoofit at 118 pounds.

The Phoenix, eighth race on the 10-race card, is followed by the $400,000 Darley Alcibiades Stakes (gr. I) for 2-year-old fillies. Keeneland will race Wednesdays through Sundays through Oct. 29.

$175,000 Phoenix Stakes (gr. II, Race 8, 5:13 p.m. EDT) 3 Years and Up, 6 Furlongs
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Flashpoint (FL) C H Velasquez 120 W A Ward
2. Southern Style (KY) G Saez 118 M T Chatters
3. Hamazing Destiny (KY) R Albarado 118 D W Lukas
4. Hoofit (NZ) E S Prado 118 H G Motion
5. Sterling Outlook (KY) G K Gomez 118 J W Sadler
6. Aikenite (FL) J R Velazquez 122 T A Pletcher
7. Cool Bullet (FL) J R Leparoux 118 S Margolis