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Flagstaff Makes the Grade in San Carlos
Benoit Photo

Flagstaff Makes the Grade in San Carlos

ARCADIA, CA – Lane’s End Racing and Hronis Racing’s Flagstaff broke through for his first graded score with an impressive, nearly effortless performance in Saturday’s $200,000 San Carlos Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park.

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Breaking from post 2 under Victor Espinoza as the even-money favorite, Flagstaff sat back and watched from fourth while four-wide as fellow John Sadler trainee St. Joe Bay set the pace. With Law Abidin Citizen and McKale flanked to his outside, St. Joe Bay posted fractions of :22.27 and :45.04.

Ranging up effortlessly to run four-wide off of the far turn, Flagstaff straightened for home still under a hand ride. Surging ahead at the 1/16 pole, Flagstaff proved more than talented enough, pulling away under light urging before crossing victorious by 1 1/4 lengths.

The bettors’ choice completed the 7-furlong sprint over the fast main track in a final time of 1:22.64.

“I tried to sit back a little bit and run at the end,” Espinoza said. “I was worried a little bit on the backside because they slowed down and I was a bit farther back than I wanted. When the dirt started hitting, it kicked back, he started slowing down a bit, so I had to move out. When I moved out, that was it; it’s just another gear that he has.”

Roadster rallied down the middle of the track to take second over his Bob Baffert stablemate McKale, with Law Abidin Citizen missing the board by just a 1/2-length. Manhattan Up and a fading St. Joy Bay completed the order of finish.

Flagstaff’s win was his second at the stakes level, having won the local Damascus Stakes on Breeders’ Cup Saturday, to improve his overall record to 11-5-3-2. The 6-year-old gelded son of Speightstown, purchased for $475,000 as a yearling, has now earned $403,785.

“He waits a little bit when he gets in front, so Victor was trying to sit behind as long as he could,” Sadler said. “Victor told me he got to the front a little quick. He was loaded today. Plenty of horse. He’s really strong.”

Flagstaff returned $4 to win, $2.40 to place, and $2.20 to show. Roadster brought back $3 to place and $2.60 to show, while McKale paid $4 to show.

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