Fluke Wins Poignant Citation for Frankel Barn
In an emotional win for the barn of the late trainer Bobby Frankel, the Brazilian import Fluke charged between horses in deep stretch to capture his first American stakes race in the $300,000 Citation Handicap (gr. IT) (VIDEO) at Hollywood Park Nov. 27.
"I'm so happy," Ascanio told TVG while fighting back tears. "I don't want to get mushy (about Frankel), but I'm sure he gave a little push."
In the winner's circle later, he added, "Bobby told me to get him ready. Be positive, he is training good. He was right. The horse was doing good. My job was to continue training. I’m just happy to win for him."
Ascanio held his 15-month old grandson, Jonathan, in the winner’s circle and was joined by his wife, Maureen, and other family members.
"This is very emotional for me," Talamo said. "Bobby's the one who brought me out here (from Louisiana). If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here."
Frankel won a record 17 stakes during the Hollywood Park Turf Festival. The Hall of Fame conditioner died of leukemia Nov. 16.
Ever a Friend finished second in the Citation, with Cowboy Cal running third. Favored Blue Chagall made a strong bid on the final turn while four wide but faded in the homestretch, finishing last of eight. The final time was 1:40.48 over firm going.
Fluke scored his first American stakes victory in the Citation. A grade III winner in his native Brazil in 2008, the 4-year-old son of Wild Event began the year with Frankel at Santa Anita, winning one of two starts before shipping east. In his only other U.S. stakes try Fluke finished a well-beaten fifth in Keeneland's Maker's Mark Mile (gr. IT) in April before relocating to New York.
"Early in the year I saw he won that race and I thought he would be a nice horse at the end of the year," Ascanio said. “He was more rank (early in the year). He is tough to ride in the morning and hard to settle. He (Talamo) did a good job.”
"I watched the replay of his last race and man, he came home in :22," Talamo noted. "I'm not going to say that we knew he was going to win, but we came in with a lot of confidence. He's a real nice horse and I think he's going to go on to do some big things. They weren't really going all that fast, but into the turn I could see some of them were making early moves. In the stretch it was just a matter of finding a seam, and when he found one he really took off."
Ever a Friend stayed on well for second with Joel Rosario aboard, edging Cowboy Cal and Rafael Bejarano by three-quarters of a length. Proudinsky , a second horse in the field from the former Frankel barn, made a mild move in the stretch and was a neck back in fourth. He was followed by Enriched, Skyrush, Monzante, and the favorite.
Both Rosario and Bejarano said that the early bid from Blue Chagall on the turn forced them to move as well or risk being shut off in the lane.
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