SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY – Robert Evans’ homebred White Flag took command at the top of the stretch, then dug in strongly to hold off his 3/5-favored stablemate Disco Partner and win Saturday’s $125,000 Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship Stakes.
Breaking from post 8 under David Cohen at 10-1 odds, White Flag soon settled into the 2-path in midpack while Dubini posted opening fractions of :22.46 and :45.05. Beginning to make his move near the far turn’s exit, Cohen tipped his steed out and commenced a rally past the front-runners, then dug in late to hold off his fellow Christophe Clement trainee. White Flag’s winning margin was 3/4 of a length after he completed the 6-furlong sprint over the firm outer turf course in a final time of 1:07.98, just .14 seconds off of Black Stetson’s track record.
“I actually expected (Disco Partner) to be in front of me, so when he really didn’t break all that sharp and didn’t really push the pace, I just kind of rode my race like usual,” Cohen said. “I definitely wanted to tip out before he had any chance to kind of get his momentum going.”
Disco Partner’s rally was hindered when he initially failed to find running room at the top of the stretch. He finished second by 3/4 of a length over Kitten’s Cat, who appeared poised to make a run for the upset before flattening out late. Hembree took fourth over Blind Ambition, while a spent Dubini and a non-threatening Fielder completed the order of finish. Coal Front was scratched as a Main Track Only entrant, while Axtell was a trainer scratch.
White Flag’s win was his second stakes score following the Allied Forces Stakes at Belmont Park on September 10, 2017 and improved his overall record to 13-5-2-3. The 4-year-old son of War Front increased his lifetime bankroll to $426,303 in his first race back east after finishing fifth in the Grade 2 City of Hope Mile Stakes at Santa Anita.
“He’s always been a nice horse,” Clement said. “He won a stakes as a 3-year-old and has been a bit unlucky this year. The last time, when I ran him in California, he came back with a quarter crack. We took care of that and he ran very well today. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wants to go a touch further, maybe (7 furlongs) or even a mile.”
White Flag returned $22.60 to win, $6.60 to place, and $4.70 to show. Disco Partner brought back $2.80 to place and $2.20 to show, while Kitten’s Cat paid $6.60 to show.