War Flag outkicks charging Dacita in Flower Bowl

October 08, 2017 01:02pm
War Flag wins 2017 Flower Bowl
Photo: Chelsea Durand

Allen Stable's War Flag ran down Grand Jete in deep stretch and outkicked a charging Dacita by a head to win the 40th running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Flower Bowl for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up on Sunday at Belmont Park.

War Flag gave Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey his first career Flower Bowl win, completing 1 ¼ miles on the inner turf in 2:00.26. The 4-year-old daughter of War Front's first victory in four starts this year earned her a spot in the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf on November 4 at Del Mar.

Grad Jete, the even-money favorite, dueled Irish shipper Zhukova for pacesetter status, leading the six-horse field through an opening quarter-mile in 24.76 seconds with a half going in 49.24.

Out of the far turn, Grad Jete, under Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, continued to lead. But War Flag, set down for a drive by jockey Jose Ortiz, incrementally gained ground on her rival and overtook her in the final furlong. Dacita, who like Grand Jete is trained by Chad Brown, made a late bid from the outside in the final jumps before War Flag secured Ortiz's third victory of the day.

"Shug told me to ride it like it comes up," Ortiz said. "I, No. 5] was going to be a little more [forwardly placed] but she broke bad out of gate. Grand Jete and the European filly [Zhukova, No. 4] went on, and it was a perfect set up for me. I sat right behind them and when I was ready to move, I got clear on the other side. It was a small field, I had no problems. It was perfect.

"The [turf] feels really good today. It's not firm, like rock hard, but it's good. She handled everything great."

Off at 9-1, War Flag paid $21.20 on a $2 win wager and nearly doubled her career bankroll to $454,660.

War Flag made her first five starts in France before winning her North American debut on June 18 at Monmouth Park. After a runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Matchmaker and running third in the Grade 3 Glens Falls, the Kentucky bred punched her ticket to California.

"She grinded it out. She had a really good trip. I felt Jose rode a great race on her and had her in perfect position," McGaughey said. "From the Glens Falls to here she came into the race really well. So, we were confident that she would run a good race. Whether it was good enough or not you never know."

"I would think [we'd go to the Breeders' Cup]," he added. "I have never been to Del Mar so I can't comment on the turf course out there, but I think she'd probably like the California turf course, you know the way they get over the ground the way they do. A mile and a half, we will just have to see. She's got some tactical speed. We saw today where she can kind of be up in the race. That is one of the things Jose said, I don't want to be back because they probably won't be going very fast and I will get blocked, and we went from there. Hopefully, she will come out of it good and we will be able to make the trip."

Brown, whose Separationofpowers won the Grade 1 Frizette in the previous race before the Flower Bowl, saw his horses earn second and third. The Chilean-bred Dacita earned runner-up status, finishing a length ahead of Grand Jete. It was the sixth time in her last seven starts - all against graded stakes competition - that Dacita finished first or second.

"Dacita ran well once again, she just was on the short end with the ground, but she never lets us down," said Brown, who had won the three previous Flower Bowl editions. "She pretty much fires as long as it's not Keeneland."

Grand Jete, the 4-year-old English bred, was coming off a second-place effort in the Grade 1 Beverly D. last out before earning a piece of the purse.

"[I] didn't really know what to do really, gave Javier the option if he wanted the lead," Brown said. "The first half mile was crawling, then it picked up and given the ground today, and quarters in twelve, I thought she might run a little bit with the softish ground, but it's too bad."

Beauly, Guilty Twelve and Zhukova, who defeated males last out at Belmont in the Grade 1 Man o' War on May 13, completed the order of finish.

Source: NYRA Communications
(Brian Bohl)


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