There wasn’t much buzz going around the paddock prior to the 3rd race at Calder Race Course on December 18th, 2004. It was just another Maiden Special for 2 year olds, all though, there were 6 horses making their debut.
Kiaran Mclaughlin sent out the 7/5 favorite, a Fusaichi Pegasus first time starter named War Plan. William White put the saddle on the 9/5 second choice, a second time starter by Wekivia Springs named Hole In The Head. Todd Pletcher sent out the third choice for Melnyk Racing Stables, a Distorted Humor first time starter named Flower Alley.
There was nothing spectacular to report during this race. Flower Alley pressed a moderate pace before fading a bit deep in the stretch. Hole In The Head made a strong move at the top of the stretch before drawing away to a 6 ½ length victory in a time of 1:11.99 for the six furlong distance. War Plan closed moderately to finish second. This race just seemed like any other Maiden Special Weight, little did we know a future star was born.
Flower Alley made his 2nd start and his 3 year old debut in a 1 mile Maiden Special Weight at GulfStream Park. The Distorted Humor colt went off at odds of nearly 6-1, little respect for a Todd Pletcher second timer who was going a route of ground for the first time. Flower Alley would not disappoint his supporters. He pressed a quick pace before being past in the stretch by his stable-mate, Wall Street, but, Flower Alley would not be denied, he came back strong in the last furlong to over-take Wall Street by ¾’s of a length.
Todd Pletcher showed extreme confidence by entering his lightly raced 3 year old colt into the grade II Lane’s End Stakes at Turfway Park. The Lanes End stakes which is now named the Vinery Stakes has always been a strong Kentucky Derby prep race. Flower Alley found himself going against the top 3 year olds in the country. Spanish Chestnut, Magna Graduate, Andromeda’s Hero, and Wild Desert would all compete in this star studded field. Flower Alley stole the show. The Distorted Humor colt secured good early position under jockey Jorge Chavez, before dropping back in the half way mark of the race, he steadied at the ¼ pole, while showing an impressive turn of foot running down Wild Desert in the final yards to take the Grade II Lane’s End.
Derby Fever set in for owner’s Eugene and Lauren Melnyk. Who could blame them? Their colt just won a grade II off of a maiden win. Todd Pletcher made Hot Springs, Arkansas the next stop on the road to the Kentucky Derby for Flower Alley.
The grade II Arkansas Derby proved to be a much tougher test than the Lane’s End. Flower Alley found himself running up against the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile runner up and early Kentucky Derby favorite, Afleet Alex. Flower Alley showed the same heart and talent he had shown in his previous starts, but, Afleet Alex proved to be too much to handle. The Northen Afleet colt and future Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner cruised to an 8 length victory. Flower Alley didn’t disrespect himself, finishing second.
The betting public didn’t give Flower Alley a sniff in the wagering for the Kentucky Derby. The Todd Pletcher trainee went off at odds of 41-1. Flower Alley broke slow, then rushed up to pressure the insane pace set by Spanish Chestnut. The brutal early fractions proved to be too much for even this talented colt, but, he ran a better than looked 9th place finish just beaten a little over 8 lengths.
In his first start since the Kentucky Derby, Flower Alley ran second in the grade II Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park. He blossomed in the summer of his 3 year old season. He won the grade II Jim Dandy Stakes at Belmont in stylish fashion. The “other” Derby would prove to be the shining moment in his career.
The Distorted Humor colt out of the Lycious mare, Princess Olivia would relish his surroundings at old historic Saratoga Race Track. He turned heads from the moment he step foot on the grounds, his performance in the “Summer Derby” also known as the Travers Stakes, proved to everyone this colt was a star. Flower Alley faced the Kentucky Derby favorite Bellamy Road, the grade I Haskell winner Roman Ruler, and the Derby Trial winner Don’t Get Mad. Flower Alley stalked the pace of the grade I Wood Memorial winner, Bellamy Road, before pouncing on him at the top of the stretch and drawing off by nearly 3 lengths, Roman Ruler ran on to finish 3rd.
Flower Alley went on to face older horses for the first time in the grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup, he would finish 4th. But, this didn’t discourage his connections. Todd Pletcher entered Flower Alley into the “Super Bowl” of horse racing, the grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Eugene and Laura Melnyk’s little colt, Flower Alley, ran the race of his life in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He ran into future Horse of The Year, Saint Liam. But, he made the Saint work for every inch of the 10 furlong Classic. Flower Alley fought with Saint Liam all the way down the Belmont Park stretch, before grudgingly giving way in the final strides, beaten only a single length.
Flower Alley took nearly 9 months off, before making his 4 year old debut. He would win the Salvatore Mile in his first start of the year, but, he couldn’t recreate the magic of his 3 year old season. After his disappointing performance in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic, Flower Alley was sent to stud at Three Chimneys Farm. Flower Alley ended his racing career with over $2.5 million in earnings.
Much like the beginning of his racing career, Flower Alley entered stud to little or no fan fair. That is until the past two years. People started noticing Flower Alley as a talented stallion when his daughter, Lilacs and Lace, won the grade I Ashland Stakes at Keeneland Race Track. Flower Alley is also the sire of Bouquet Booth who won the Delta Downs Princess Stakes and the Silverbulletday Stakes. Now, with Flower Alley’s son, I’ll Have Another attempting to be first horse in 34 years to become a Triple Crown winner, it’s time to start recognizing Flower Alley as a top stallion.
Next time you’re asked if you want a Flower Alley off-spring. Just say, “I’ll Have Another.”