David Bienstock and Chuck Winner's Flamboyant provided the first graded stakes stunner of 2016 Jan. 2, when the 46-1 shot caught favored grade I winner Obviously in the final moments to win the $200,000 San Gabriel Stakes (gr. IIT) by a neck at Santa Anita Park.
The 5-year-old Patrick Gallagher-trained Peer Gynt gelding raced in eighth heading into the first turn and improved to sixth in the backstretch of the 1 1/8-mile turf test, saving ground on the rail the entire way under jockey Brice Blanc, while Obviously set fractions of :23.26, :46.60, and 1:10.27 through six furlongs, as many as 3 1/2 lengths ahead.
But as they entered the stretch, Flamboyant loomed in third on the rail, then angled out slightly and surged past the front-runner in the final furlong to hit the wire in 1:46.65 on firm turf.
"I speak to him in French, so it must work," the French-born Blanc said of his French-bred mount. "He's been working really, really well and I think he cares for this course as well ... There was plenty of pace to run at today, which I think is great, because he seems like once he settles down, he can finish up and really make a nice run."
Grade III winner Bal a Bali was in a similar stalking position entering the stretch, but could not make up ground in the center of the course and finished third, 2 1/4 lengths back.
"Maybe Brice speaks the same language," Gallagher said. "We gelded the horse, but ever since Brice has ridden him, he's done everything right, so whatever language he speaks, it must be working."
The winner paid $94.20, $33.40, and $13.80 across the board. Obviously brought $5 and $3.80, while Bal a Bali delivered $3.80 to show.
"He was doing it so easily today. That was a tough loss," said Obviously's jockey Joe Talamo. "I had a lot of horse turning for home. That's the slowest he's been in a while, so I was glad he was able to relax. It's just a tough beat, but he definitely handled the distance well."
Poshsky, Power Ped, Texas Ryano , Chiropractor, Big John B, Kenjisstorm, and Wanstead Gardens completed the order of finish. Macro Access did not finish and was vanned off.
Bred by SNC Regnier and San Gabriel Inv., from the Until Sundown mare Relicia Bere, Flamboyant pushed his earnings to $398,368 with his first graded win and has a 4-3-4 record from 18 starts.