While Louies Flower's win payoff of $48 comes nowhere near the record $259.60 Texas Bling returned in winning last year's Springboard Mile at the Oklahoma City oval, it was still sweet for a horse coming off a 5 1/4-length win in his first try at a mile over the track Oct. 30.
A son of Flower Alley out of the winning Johannesburg mare Tembisa, Louies Flower was picked out of the Ocala Breeders Sales Company's yearling sale in August 2012 by owner Wesley Melcher for $25,000. The chestnut colt, bred in Florida by Shadybrook Farm and Castletop Stable, is trained by Brett Calhoun.
"He looked great at the sale," Melcher said. "We're excited about what the future holds."
Louies Flower, flying off the far turn, took the lead from Dunkin Bend in upper stretch, led Boji Moon by a length, and reached the wire just before the closing Noble Cornerstone. Louies Flower, running the final furlong in 13.51 seconds, completed the trip in a slow 1:38.83 over a fast track.
"They said to ride him with confidence. That's what I did," said Quinonez. “It seemed like it took a long time to get to the wire but we got their first. He’s a game horse, he knows how to win. "The horse ran big. It seemed to take a long time to get to the wire but we got there."
Noble Cornerstone, driving for the wire under Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, ran out of time and settled for second. He finished 5 1/2 lengths in front of Smack Smack and Jake Barton, who nosed out Walt for third.
Louies Flower was forwardly placed in third from the outset, racing off the rail behind 59-1 pacesetter Alpha and Omega and Dunkin Bend, who took over briefly following quarter mile fractions of :23.58, :47.18, and 1:12.19. The first three were separated by a couple of heads at the quarter pole and were soon joined by Boji Moon, making a rail bid.
But Louies Flower got control in the stretch over Boji Moon, who flattened out in the drive. The winner, leading narrowly at the eighth pole, was all out in deep stretch to stave off the late move from Noble Cornerstone, who had rallied from sixth at the quarter pole to just miss.
Louies Flower graduated in his third start for Calhoun Oct. 2 at 5 1/2 furlongs. Teamed with Quinonez for the first time in an allowance/optional claiming event Oct. 30, Louies Flower passed his first distance test with flying colors in front-running style. He earned $150,000 for the Springboard Mile, his third win in five lifetime starts, and had now banked $190,083.
“We had an idea that two turns was right down his alley, it sure paid off today,” said Jay Severs, Calhoun's assistant. “He was very impressive going a mile (in his last start), that’s the race that keyed us to go here.”
Under equal weights of 120 pounds, Louies Flower paid $48, $21.60, and $11.60 as the eighth choice in the field. My Meadowview Farm's New York homebred Noble Cornerstone, shipping in from Keeneland for trainer Wesley Ward, returned $6.80 and $5.40 as the 9-2 third choice. The exacta was worth $293.20. Smack Smack, victorious in Remington's Clever Trevor Stakes Nov. 8 for country music star Toby Keith's Dream Walkin Farms and trainer Don Von Hemel, paid $3.20 to show.
The Springboard win was the first for Melcher and Quinonez. Louies Flower provided the second win for Calhoun, who won the race in 2010 with Grant Jack.