This is the 3rd of a series of profiles of the contenders for the 2011 Breeders' Cup Classic. Earlier, we took a look at Await the Dawn and Drosselmeyer. This profile examines Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Flat Out.
Horse: Flat Out
Trainer: Charles Dickey
Morning Line Odds: 6/1
Career Record (Str-1st-2nd-3rd): 12-5-3-0
Career Earnings: $1,109,713
Pedigree: Sired by Flatter out of a Cresta Rider mare (Cresta Lil)
Key Stakes Wins: Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup (Belmont Park), Grade 2 Suburban Handicap (Belmont Park)
Overview: Flat Out began his career in Nov. of 2008 but has only run twelve races in his career due to an assortment of injuries that have prevented him from staying 100% healthy. He's a versatile colt that has won at distances ranging from six furlongs to a mile and a quarter, and he is in the best form of his entire career over the past four months. He lost by a length and a half to Havre de Grace in the Grade 1 Woodward on Sept. 3rd, but bounced back to easily win the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup just a month later.
One of the major obstacles that Flat Out will have to overcome in order to win this year's Classic (besides Havre de Grace) is the location, Churchill Downs. Flat Out has struggled both times he's raced at Churchill Downs in his career. The first race was his debut race in Nov. of 2008 where he finished 6th, beaten 2 ¼ lengths. More recently, Flat Out ran in this year's Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap where he finished 6th, beaten 2 ¾ lengths. While we can probably throw out the 2008 maiden race given how low ago it occurred, his performance in the Stephen Foster is concerning. The quality of the field in that race was average, at best. None of the five horses that finished ahead of Flat Out in the Foster have won a race since that day in late June. In fact, if you tabulate the results of every horse other than Flat Out in races after the Stephen Foster you get an ugly 19-2-0-1 record. The horses to win since that day were Worldly in the Prairie Meadows Handicap, and Equestrio in an Optional Claiming race.
On the positive side of the ledger is the fact that Flat Out's last four races are the best of his career; he dominated the Suburban and the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and was a good 2nd to Havre de Grace in the Woodward. Given his run of success since the Foster the question becomes: was Flat Out's poor effort in Louisville the result of not taking to the track, or did he just run a clunker that day? If it was just a bad day at the office (something that happens to every horse), then his recent form suggests that he's ready to run big at the Breeders' Cup. However, if that race was the result of Flat Out not liking the surface at Churchill Downs... well, that's a much bigger issue.
Below is the video of Flat Out's win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (via BCWorldChampionships YouTube channel)