Juddmonte Farms’ globe-trotting Flintshire displayed his brilliant turn of foot in the stretch to post a 1 3/4-length victory over Ironicus in the $1 million Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes (gr. IT) on the June 11 Belmont Stakes undercard at Belmont Park.
The 6-year-old Dansili horse, sent off as the 3-5 favorite, completed the 1 1/4 miles over the firm Widener Turf Course in 1:58.92.
With the start delayed after Grand Tito acted up in the gate, Flintshire and jockey Javier Castellano settled in behind the first group of World Approval, Divisidero, Grand Tito, and Ironicus as they went the first quarter in :23.81. World Approval and Grand Tito continued on the front end down while closely bunched down the backside, with a half-mile completed in a pedestrian :49.77. Those two led into the stretch but were quickly overtaken by Flintshire as Ironicus closed along the rail to just edge World Approval.
Flintshire paid $3.40, $2.80, and $2.50, with Ironicus worth $4.80 and $4. World Approval paid $5.50.
Flintshire has won group I races in Hong Kong, France, and the U.S. and placed in top-class company in the United Arab Emirates and England while trained by Andre Fabre. He made his 2016 debut in the Manhattan and first start since being turned over the trainer Chad Brown.
The victory was the sixth in 20 starts for Flintshire, who has finished second on 10 occasions and has one third to his credit. The victory improved his bankroll to more than $8.1 million.
Victorious in the 2015 Sword Dancer Invitational (gr. IT) at Saratoga Race Course, Flintshire finished last year's campaign with game second-place efforts in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) and Longines Hong Kong Vase (HK-I).
“He was sent to me in outstanding condition,” Brown said. “We're just trying to get him into our program, make sure he adapts OK and he doesn't change for the worse, which he hasn't. He showed the ability to cut back to a mile and a quarter with a good turn of foot today. He has an indescribable amount of class. He's so intelligent. He picks things up at light speed, oozes class, and is a privilege to work with every day."
Brown said the ultimate goal for Flintshire this year is the Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT).
“There are no immediate plans,” Brown said. “Obviously, the goal is to take down that race at Santa Anita at the end of the year. How we get there, there is more than one way to do that."
"I had so much confidence with the horse (after) watching all the replays,” Castellano said. “He's a phenomenal, spectacular horse. He's very straightforward with his approach. He can (compete) with the best horses in the country.”
"I thought we ran good,” trainer Shug McGaughey said of Ironicus’ effort. “We got beat a length and a half by probably the best horse in training on the turf. He had a pretty clean trip. I don't think we had quite as clean a trip. I'm disappointed we lost but we ran good. We had to steady a little bit on the inside but maybe the race was over by that point. (Flintshire) had clear sailing around, he was on the outside of us the whole way and we were just second."
"I was in a perfect spot early on,” jockey Jose Ortiz said of Ironicus. “Then, at the three-eighths pole Javier was outside me and I tried to move out, but he wasn't letting me in. I took a chance going inside but I didn't have much room. If I was in a better position, I think I might have won."
Flintshire was produced from Juddmonte homebred Dance Routine, a daughter of the great Sadler’s Wells. Trained by Fabre, the mare won the group II Prix de Royallieu Hotel du Golf Barrier and Prix de Royaymont (Fr-III) and finished second in the Prix de Diane Hermes (Fr-I, French Oaks) and Pris de la Nonette Royal Barriere.