Flashpoint...Derby Contender or Flash in the Pan?

Flashpoint...Derby Contender or Flash in the Pan?
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire


As you watched the earlier races on the Saturday Gulfstream Park card you knew that the 85+ degree temperature was aiding a sun-backed, tight surface which favored speed all day long.  In fact, if your horse wasn’t within two lengths of the pace setter at the first call, you had no chance at the win spot.  Very key bias to keep in mind as we look back at these preps two months from now.


As expected, the pace came up super hot in the Hutcheson with Travelin Man doing all the early running while Flashpoint and Royal Currier tracked his every step.  Despite the speed bias this day, Flashpoint put on the most impressive performance of the day.  After cutting hot fractions and then drawing away, it makes you wonder if the Beyer Figure and the BRIS pace/speed rating earned in his Maiden victory was a complete fluke. To check that possibility, I pulled up Simba’s Story’s BRIS speed ratings (horse that finished second to Flashpoint in his debut maiden win) for his three career races run at Aqueduct.  Here’s what I found:


12/11 -- 6 Furlongs  3rd Place Finish                        BRIS Speed Rating = 91

1/15  -- 6 Furlongs 2nd Place Finish to Flashpoint – BRIS Speed Rating = 73

2/13 – 5.5 Furlongs 1st Place Finish                         BRIS Speed Rating = 95


So, this tells me something is definitely out of whack with the Jan. 15 figures.  Wish I did this research before the Hutcheson!


After his maiden win, all the connections were saying Flashpoint is a sprinter through and through and would be pointed to sprint stakes races all year and especially those run at Saratoga.  After the impressive Hutcheson victory, however, the connections have caught a little Derby fever so don’t be surprised to see this one in the Florida Derby next.  Derby contender or Derby flash in the pan?  You make the call.  I say go for brilliant sprinter.


What a tale of two paces when it came to the Hutcheson and the Fountain of Youth.  To no fault of his own, Soldat simply inherited the early lead on a surface, oh, so kind to any horse that stepped out of the gate first.  While this was a useful prep, it was a walk in the park for Soldat.  So, give him credit for showing he can handle a fast track and with two 1 1/8 victories under his saddle strap, he’s building a nice foundation going into the Florida Derby.  He’ll be rating behind speed in that one and we’ll see if he can muster a stronger late kick than he did while holding off Gourmet Dinner in the final yards of the FOY.

Given the soft pace and speed bias, I have to upgrade Gourmet Dinner’s performance here.  I don’t see him as a Derby contender just yet, but he leads the class, in my opinion, when it comes to the second tier competition and looks the type that will always give you a gutsy performance.



Bowman’s Causeway clearly had the worst trip of any prep runner on this day.  (Look for a big move forward in his next effort.) He got whacked hard at the start and then had to steady off the heals of Shackleford coming into the far turn losing some valuable momentum on a surface that clearly didn’t favor his closing style.  Clean trip puts him past To Honor and Serve at the wire.  The latter really disappointed and if To Honor and Serve truly has only one more prep on his dance card, I would say some of the luster is off this gem.  We knew he needed a race, but the soft pace and bias should have yielded a better performance.  With only six works leading up to this prep, you have to wonder about his soundness.


Here’s our post-race evaluation for the Hutcheson and Fountain of Youth Stakes


Gulfstream Park G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes 1 1/8 Dirt


Beyer Speed Rating: 96

BRIS Pace/Final Pars:  First Call = 94; Second Call = 104; Final = 104

Actual Pace/Final:         First Call = 89; Second Call =  99;  Final = 104

Track Bias: Strong Speed Bias

Tough Trips: Bowman’s Causeway hit hard at the start and steadied late

Impressive Effort: Gourmet Dinner gets a slight nod but none really impressed

HRN Pre-Race Grade = B+

HRN Post-Race Grade = B

Notes: The early pace was very slow and the speed bias was strong.  Not a great test for any of the horses entered and a big downgrade for To Honor and Serve.

Gulfstream Park G2 Hutcheson - 7f Dirt

Winner: Flashpoint (RANK #88 – HRN DERBY CONTENDERS)
Beyer Speed Rating: 102

BRIS Pace/Final Pars:  First Call = 98; Second Call = 108; Final = 104

Actual Pace/Final:         First Call = 96; Second Call = 109; Final = 108

Track Bias:  Strong Speed Bias

Tough Trips: Black N Beauty not right from the start and pulled up.

Impressive Effort: Flashpoint overcame the hot pace and drew away impressively.  Has the makings of a brilliant stakes sprinter.  Florida Derby will tell if this one is Derby legit.

HRN Pre-Race Grade = C+

HRN Post-Race Grade = C

Notes: The impressive victory in superior times by Flashpoint moves this prep up to a C grade but just don’t see this one serving as an important prep to the Derby.


[Are you kidding, Flashpoint is ranked only 88th and Soldat moves to all the way up to #2 in the HRN Derby rankings?  Check out the 2011 Kentucky Derby contender rankings and put in your vote today!]

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Check back on Friday when we’ll be previewing the Gotham Stakes.





About Me

Mike has been a passionate horseracing fan for over 30 years. He received his “handicapping education” through countless hours of deciphering the mystery that is embedded in every race. It was the tough beats at the window, however, that propelled him to never make the same mistake twice (well, maybe three times).

As Managing Partner of Horse Racing Nation, Mike serves as investor, business advisor, staff handicapper and developer of handicapping content.

Handicapping the Derby has always been one of Mike's favorite endeavors.  He spends weeks compiling notes, speed figures and analysis in preparation for the big race.  In 2010, his HRN pals pushed him into packaging his time-tested methods into what became the 2010 Kentucky Derby Super Screener, an e-book that became extremely popular with HRN readers and was downloaded over 3,000 times.   

In preparation for the 2011 Derby, Mike will be "Rating the Preps" each weekend on the Derby trail.  The goal will be to build a good picture for which prep races are most likely to produce the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner.   

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