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ELMONT, NY – Tracy Farmer homebred Sir Winston makes his long-awaited return to Belmont Park, site of his impressive Belmont Stakes (G1) score 369 days ago, in Thursday’s $80,000 Flat Out Stakes.
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After winning the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes at 10/1 odds (due in large part to Joel Rosario’s expert ride), Sir Winston took the remainder of the season off and did not return until running in a 1-mile minor stakes over the Fair Grounds turf in late December. He returned to form in his next and most recent start, a 1-mile Aqueduct dirt event against optional claiming rivals, and will stretch out while getting Rosario back in the saddle.
“He’s doing well now, he’s happy, the distance won’t hurt him, and we all know that he loves Belmont,” said his Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse. “We’re just trying to get started.”
Here is a look at the full field for Thursday’s Flat Out:
1. Prompt (20/1) – Perhaps a change of scenery will help the Bill Mott trainee rediscover the winning form that saw him win back-to-back 1 1/8-mile allowance events between Aqueduct and Belmont Park before he wintered in southern Florida. He has gone at least this race’s distance three times previously, all on turf, with his best effort coming second by a neck.
2. Rocketry (7/2) – He ended 2018 as the undisputed dirt marathon distance master, thanks to his victories in the local 1 5/8-mile Temperence Hill Stakes (where he set a new course record) and the 1 3/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Marathon (G2). However, he failed to find similar success in 6 starts last year, so he will need to turn things around if he hopes to improve upon his second-place effort in the 2019 edition of this race.
3. Moretti (8/1) – The first of three entered from the Todd Pletcher barn, he finally earned his second career victory last time out in a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Oaklawn Park. He gets Javier Castellano back aboard for the second straight race as he navigates beyond 1 1/8 miles for the first time.
4. Sir Winston (8/5) – The morning line favorite should have no qualms about traveling this distance. Though unraced since the aforementioned Aqueduct victory on January 31, he has trained forwardly and retains Rosario, who knows how to ride him as well as anyone.
5. Legit (8/1) – He began his career winning back-to-back efforts, but then missed 22 months due to various setbacks and has not returned to form in 3 starts this year. He has not raced beyond 1 1/16 miles and may not represent Pletcher’s most logical choice on paper, but as a 5-year-old son of Curlin, he projects to handle the added distance.
6. Expert (10/1) – His 14-6-2-1 record came while frequently running for a claiming tag, but he has won both starts while covering 1 1/8 miles on dirt. He has also run protected in 5 prior starts since being claimed for $40,000 a year ago February, so his connections appear to have plenty of confidence in his abilities.
7. Blugrascat’s Smile (15/1) – He nearly held on for a 10/1 victory in the 1 5/16-mile Bernardini Stakes at Aqueduct in late February, getting caught late by a common rival and finishing second by 3/4 of a length. That was his first start for Gary Sciacca, who claimed him for $40,000 one race prior, so there could still be room for growth after earning a career-best 91 Beyer speed figure that day.
8. You’re to Blame (12/1) – The third entry from the Pletcher stable adds blinkers for the first time in 23 months as he returns to a marathon distance, which seems to be his specialty. He has 1 win (the 2018 Greenwood Cup [G3]) and 3 runner-up efforts from 5 starts going at least 1 1/4 miles.
9. Adventist (9/2) – After running at the rear for most of the race, he flew down the middle of the lane to nip Blugrascat’s Smile in the Bernardini. He also won the 1 1/2-mile Greenwood Cup (G3) last October in similar fashion, so look for him to save ground early and come with a rally in the stretch.
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