by Jerry Shottenkirk
June 6, 2020
Everyone likes the outstanding sprinter Whitmore, but fans of Flagstaff feel slighted and have waited since mid-April for his return.
Whitmore won Oaklawn’s Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint by three-quarters of a length over Flagstaff, who broke 11th and last, motored through traffic and came within three-quarters of a length of Whitmore at the end. He was flying, and with any kind of luck at all probably would’ve had his picture taken.
Flagstaff is back home at Santa Anita on Sunday for the Grade 2 Triple Bend Stakes (Race 8, 7 p.m. ET) to face highly regarded McKinzie and three others in the seven-furlong race, which is the third leg of the Pick 4.
Flagstaff became on of the top sprinters on the West Coast when he was third behind Omaha Beach in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship. He won the Damascus Stakes and took the Grade 2 San Carlos. He has been very close to the pace in nearly all of his races, with the Count Fleet as a glaring exception.
McKinzie, as we all know, is a Grade 1 regular and usually runs longer distances, but in December of 2018 he rallied from 12th and won the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs in widening fashion. He can get tuned up early and he certainly has the overall class edge. He’s been off since he was 11th in the $20 million Saudi Cup. His usual string of good works has followed and he’ll undoubtedly be outrun in this one.
Both are on the suggested Pick 4 ticket, which amounts to $60.
Here’s a look at the other late Pick 4 races:
Race 6 (6 p.m. ET, optional claiming)
It’s all about finding the right level, and the connections of SASH have done just that. Sure, they tried him in the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe, and the result was a 10th-place finish, but he’s back to his optional claiming $40,000 price, and he has a win and a good 2nd (last out) at the level. He gets the edge, but it’s not enough of an advantage in which he stands alone on the ticket. SWAMP SOUFFLE made a strong run for third last out and is capable of getting there today, and JULIUS was very good in two-turn races last year and gets to stretch out after competing in sprints.
Race 7 (6:30 p.m. ET, maiden claiming)
Maiden claimers are the easiest to figure, especially when it’s an evenly matched bunch. RED DIAMOND makes her debut and Hall of Famer Ron McAnally won with a first-timer last week, so this gal will try to continue that barn’s success. PREDICTABLE TULLY has had four U.S. starts after three in Great Britain and has been fairly close in all tries here. Moved early and hung late last time and a well-timed move will make her tough. MOREAVINO is a Justin Phillip filly making her initial start midway in her 4-year-old year. She has a steady string of works and looks ready to give it a go. MISS ALEGRIA was an even fourth in a decent spot in her debut and can be expected to improve off that effort.
Race 9 (7:30 p.m. ET, maiden)
This is a head scratcher, much like the 7th race. APPROVED FOR FLYBY was closed up early and faded to third, 10 lengths off at the end. She’s likely to improve. LOVELY FINISH ran on late and was getting to the winner. She’s been second in four of six and has been able to get over the hump. Maybe today is the day. LIBERALISM was on the board in all three starts, will be a front-end factor and could stay. A MELIS has trained very well for her first start and likely will get a fair share of support. ANNA FANTASTIC has several good works and is ready to make her debut. Could surprise.
Race 6) #2 Sash, #5 Swamp Souffle, #6 Julius.
Race 7) #1 Red Diamond, #3 Predictable Tully, #5 Moreavino, #9 Miss Alegria.
Race 8) #1 Flagstaff, #5 McKinzie.
Race 9) #1 Approved for Flyby, #6 Lovely Finish, #8 Liberalism, #9 A Melis, #10 Anna Fantastic.
Total Ticket Cost) 2,5,6/1,3,5,9/1,5/1,6,8,9,10 = $60 for $0.50