USA: Flintshire bids to extend unbeaten record

Flintshire: Has thrived since joining Chad Brown in America

PICTURE: Jessie Holmes / Equisport Photos Flintshire bids to
extend unbeaten record By Nicholas Godfrey 7:01aM 01 oct 2016

Preview: USA, Saturday 8.26pm BST (live on ATR)

Belmont Park: Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (Grade 1) 1m4f, turf, 3yo+

THREE rivals and a couple of imponderables face Flintshire (Chad Brown/Javier Castellano) as he bids to burnish a flawless record since being transferred to the States from Andre Fabre at the end of last season.

In three starts this term, the six-year-old has looked in a different league altogether from his North American counterparts, barely breaking sweat to win a pair of Grade 1s and a Grade 2, and now he bids to extend the sequence in this $500,000 contest on his final start before the Breeders' Cup Turf, in which he was second to Main Sequence in 2014.

However, while he has little to fear from the form book, his connections may be more concerned about the weather. A confirmed fast-ground performer, Flintshire was sent to the States in search of firm ground – and there is plenty of rain about in the New York area.

"He's settled in nicely since joining us and fortunately he's taken to our programme like the class horse he is," said Chad Brown. "Of course there's some concern with the possibility of rain. He definitely prefers firm ground but we'll hope for the best. He's a top class horse so he should be able to handle the conditions. I'm planning to run regardless."

Flintshire is a sound stayer – connections employed a pacemaker last time but not here. There is no guarantee of pace in such a short field, though admittedly a similar scenario wasn't any bother in the four-runner Bowling Green at Saratoga, where he won as he liked.

Flintshire also faces an intriguing rival – one he might recognise – in Ectot (Todd Pletcher/Jose Ortiz), whom he last raced against when both were trained in France in the 2014 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Then the four-year-old Flintshire was runner-up to Treve, but Ectot was sent off only a 6-1 chance after winning the Prix Niel. In the event, he pulled too hard.Trained then by Elie Lellouche, the five-year-old is now in the care of Al Shaqab's US trainer, for whom he finished second in an allowance event at Saratoga.

The field is completed by Money Multiplier (Chad Brown/John Velazquez) and Twilight Eclipse (Tom Albertrani/Joel Rosario), both easily handled by Flintshire last time when they finished second and third in the Sword Dancer.

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Also on Saturday

Belmont Park: Gallant Bloom Hcap (Grade 2) 6½f, dirt, 3yo+ (9.04pm BST, live on ATR)

Late-running Breeders' Cup winner Wavell Avenue (Chad Brown/Joel Rosario) follows a familiar path back to the championship, though she was beaten into second here 12 months ago and gives away a bit of weight all round after a below-par effort last time at Saratoga.

Belmont Park: Vosburgh Stakes (Grade 1) 6f, dirt, 3yo+ (10.11pm BST, live on ATR)

A.P. Indian (Arnaud Delacour/Joe Bravo) defends a perfect five-for-five record this season in this 'Win and You're In' contest for the Breeders' Cup Sprint. The six-year-old, who comes here as the nation's leading sprinter, is out to complete a Grade 1 hat-trick after winning the Vanderbilt and Forego at Saratoga, and he won the Belmont Sprint Championship here in July.

Rain could be an issue, though. He was well beaten on an 'off' track at Keeneland last year; his trainer has said he will scratch if it gets muddy.

Rivals include X Y Jet (Jorge Navarro/Emisael Jaramillo), back in action for the first time since his winning streak was ended with a gallant effort at Meydan, and Joking (Charlton Baker/Manny Franco), out with a splint injury since winning the True North over course and distance on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

Belmont Park: Beldame Stakes (Grade 1) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo+ f/m (10.45pm BST, live on ATR)

Apple Blossom winner Forever Unbridled (Dallas Stewart/Joel Rosario), consistent this term at the highest level, heads three Grade 1 winners among the seven engaged here, but she might not run in the event of a sloppy track,

Paola Queen (Gustavo Delgado/Luis Saez) benefited from a contested pace when closing for a shock 55-1 success in the Test Stakes over 7f at Saratoga and has always failed when faced with longer trips in the past.

On the other hand, Off The Tracks (Todd Pletcher/John Velazquez), beaten twice at Saratoga at sprint trips, won the Mother Goose over just a half-furlong short of this trip at this venue in July. Going For Broke (Chad Brown/Irad Ortiz) was a seven-length second to all-conquering Songbird in the Alabama at Saratoga.

Churchill Downs: Ack Ack Hcap (Grade 3) 1m, dirt, 3yo+ (9.49pm BST, live on ATR)

All eyes will be on sprint champion Runhappy (Laura Wohlers/Edgar Prado), the horse around whom the fairytale soured, as he tries to stretch out to a mile on his return after a layoff owing to a bone bruise.

The Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile is said to be the target for the four-year-old, who stole the headlines at last year's meeting with a popular victory for little-known trainer Maria Borell, the 'Girl with the Horse Tattoo'.

The story mildewed quickly when Runhappy was removed from Borell's care the very next day after his Keeneland triumph by owner James 'Mattress Mack' McIngvale, prompting a barrage of claim and counter-claim, innuendo, allegation and speculation.

Churchill Downs: Lukas Classic (ungraded) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo+ (10.20pm BST, live on ATR)

A well-beaten eighth in the Woodward at Saratoga last time out, Bradester (Eddie Kenneally/Corey Lanerie) won the Grade 1 Stephen Foster here in June, winning an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Now he must convince his trainer in this $175,000 event that he deserves a place in America's senior race.

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