DEL MAR, CA – Jerome and Tina Moss’ Red Flag proved untouchable in the stretch as he drew off to a strong victory in Sunday’s $100,000 Bob Hope Stakes (G3) at Del Mar.
Breaking from post 5 under Victor Espinoza as the 10/1 fifth choice in the field of six juveniles, Red Flag sat farthest out in the four-horse wall that set the initial pace.
With Weston, Coastal Kid, and the 3/5 favorite Spielberg running to his inside, Red Flag helped post opening fractions of :22.73 and :45.34 by midway through the far turn.
Coastal Kid stumbled badly and dropped out of contention, though he did recover and continue running safely. Spielberg and Weston dropped anchor soon after and were left watching in despair as Red Flag drew off as he past the 1/4 pole.
Straightening for home with a sizeable advantage, Espinoza kept Red Flag to a vigorous hand ride through to the wire, completing the 7-furlong fast dirt sprint in 1:23.56. The John Shirreffs trainee was 7 1/4 lengths clear.
“John said, ‘You know him, go ahead and see what you can do with him,’” said Espinoza, who was also aboard for his maiden-breaking effort last time out. “He broke running and he wanted to go. He seemed to be more professional today than last time. He’s still a baby and he was fooling around before, but he was good today and did all the right things. He’ll go farther, for sure. With the way he ran today, why not?”
Uncle Boogie dwelt at the rear early but rallied home to take second by 1 length over Ambivalent, who was 1 1/4 lengths clear of tough luck Spielberg.
Weston and Coastal Kid completed the order of finish.
Red Flag’s win was his second straight following a neck score in a 5 1/2-furlong dash over the Santa Anita Park lawn and improved his overall mark to 3-2-0-0. The Tamarkuz colt, purchased for $220,000 as a yearling, has now earned $94,100.
“I didn’t really expect that kind of performance,” Shirreffs said. “I was hoping to get a placing. He broke his maiden from way off the pace and he’s been doing better and better in the mornings, but he’s not a brilliant work horse, so this was a pleasant surprise. You always hope but you never know. He’s gone from 5 1/2 furlongs to 7, so it looks like he’ll be able to go longer. It’s special because Mr. and Mrs. Moss were here today and got to see him run.”
Red Flag returned $23.40 to win, $9.60 to place, and $9.40 to show. Uncle Boogie brought back $6 to place and $5.60 to show, while Ambivalent paid $6.60 to show.