Record-Priced Juvenile Wins Flash Stakes

Chapel Royal showed the brilliance that may help him earn back his record purchase price, the $1.2 million juvenile easily winning the Flash Stakes (gr. III) at Belmont Park Friday over just three opponents.

He established a new record at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s February selected 2-year-olds in training sale at Calder Race Course when trainer Todd Pletcher signed the ticket in the name of Irish agent Demi O'Byrne.

The colt races for Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith.

"He's a horse that we've had high hopes for from the time Demi picked him out," Pletcher said. "Demi is so good at finding these horses and Mr. (Derrick) Smith and Mr. (Michael) Tabor stepped up paid for him. He looks like a good buy at this point."

A homebred of Michael O'Farrell's Ocala Stud, the nearly jet-black Montbrook colt is the second foal of racing age out of the winning Cutlass mare Cut Class Leanne.

Chapel Royal broke his maiden at Belmont on May 15 by an impressive 9 ¼ lengths. On Friday, he took the Flash by 5 ¼. He ran the five furlongs of the Flash in :57.02.

Hasslefree ran early with Chapel Royal, but John Velazquez merely asked him to go on and in the stretch the long-striding colt drew off easily. Hasslefree was second, with Juventus another 2 ¼ lengths back. Mighty Awesome finished fourth.

"I gave him a little breather on the turn," Velazquez said. "I let the other horse come to me. Jerry (Bailey) had to push his horse to stay where he was. When I asked my horse, he switched leads and kicked in nicely."

Pletcher said he's considering the Tremont (gr. III) at Bemont on June 28 or the Sanford (gr. II) July 24 at Saratoga for Chapel Royal.

"Everything's comes so easy for the horse, that I told everybody before he ran the first time that he was ready -- but not because I pressed him at all," Pletcher said. "He came out of the maiden race so well. It was logical to run him back here."

Pletcher and Velazquez teamed to win the Flash in 1999 with More Than Ready.

As the heavy favorite, Chapel Royal paid $2.60 and $2.10. Hasslefree also paid $2.10. There was no show wagering. The exacta returned $3.60.

(Chart, Equibase)