LEXINGTON, KY – After taking a pair of juvenile stakes races at his home track of Woodbine last year, Ivan Dalos’ homebred Avie’s Flatter took command in mid-stretch and held off a hard-charging favorite at the wire to win Friday’s Kentucky Utilities Transylvania Stakes (G3) at Keeneland.
Breaking from post 4 under Javier Castellano at 4/1 odds, Avie’s Flatter settled to run two-wide just behind the front-running pair of Onthewaytonevrland and Weekly Call through opening fractions of :23.59, :48.23, and 1:12.64. Stuck in traffic as the field hit the top of the stretch, Avie’s Flatter finally found room shortly after straightening out and began steadily drawing in the pacesetters before poking his nose in front in midstretch. A late rally from the 5/2 favorite Henley’s Joy proved too little, too late, as the Josie Carroll-trained Avie’s Flatter crossed with a 1/2-length advantage in a final time of 1:42.86 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the firm turf course.
“I really liked the way he did it today,” said Castellano after riding Avie’s Flatter for the first time. “I’ve been studying the horse since last year. I like the way he does everything. He can be on the lead; he can cover up. Today, he broke a little slow. I didn’t rush it. (Considering) the layoff and the way he performed today – very amazing.”
Castellano also won this race in 2015 aboard Night Prowler and in 2017 with Big Score.
The bettors’ choice, Henley’s Joy raced at the rear early, and because he was right behind Avie’s Flatter at the top of the stretch, he, too struggled to find an open lane for running. Once Avie’s Flatter took off in front of him, he finally found space, but he let the winner get too far away. Henley’s Joy closed into second by a 1/2-length at the wire over The Black Album, who necked out War Film for third. Onthewaytonevrland yielded late to fifth, 3 lengths clear of Louder Than Bombs, with Weekly Call and Dunph completing the order of finish.
Go Away, Hawaiian Noises, and Life Mission were all scratched.
Avie’s Flatter’s win was his third straight following scores in both the Cup and Saucer Stakes and the Coronation Futurity at Woodbine last fall. It was his first in a graded event after finishing fourth, his only career defeat, in the Summer Stakes (G1). The 3-year-old son of Flatter now carries a record of 5-4-0-0 with $341,834 earned.
We had some pretty solid works at Palm Meadows,” Carroll said. “I thought he was in good order, but I did say to Javier, ‘Keep him covered up a little bit and make sure you have some horse to finish because it has been a while since he ran.’ Mr. Dalos breeds a really good horse, and we thought this horse was special from the very beginning.”
Avie’s Flatter returned $10 to win, $4.80 to place, and $3.80 to show. Henley’s Joy brought back $4 to place and $3.20 to show, while The Black Album paid $4.40 to show.