FLAY SERVES UP A WINNING DISH IN SPENCER CHILDERS
Paul Jones and Thompson Racing’s Flay (left), the only 3-year-old in the $100,000 Spencer Childers California Breeders Championship Handicap field, proved to be too strong for his older foes, as he posted a tremendous wire-to-wire half-length victory in the 400-yards race.
Named after Bobby Flay, the celebrity chef and avid horse racing ambassador, the colt by Favorite Cartel is the first 3-year-old to win the Spencer Childers since Be A Bono picked up his first of three consecutive wins in this race during his eventual World Champion campaign in 2004. His victory came against a field that included Forget It, a three-time derby winner in 2015, and All American Derby third place finisher Fire Fortune. Forget It was second in this race, while Fire Fortune ran third.
“We thought we were up against it,” said Terry Thompson about the quality of competition Flay was facing. “Paul and I wanted to test it and and see where we were at with Flay after the last stakes race when he ran such a big race. We wanted to take a chance and see the boundaries of where we were and where we could run him. He’s been feeling good. Our only question (was) that he had been (off) for about 85 to 86 days. He runs well fresh. He just ran big tonight. Once he broke I knew he had a chance because he always finishes.”
Ridden by Oscar Peinado, Flay doubled his career earnings after picking up a first place check of $48,000 for this victory. Now a winner of $95,637, Flay improved to four wins in seven starts. Flay came into this race after winning the Dillingham Handicap over a strong field that included graded stakes qualifiers Mi Viejo and My Favorite Check. He won this race in a time of :19.829.
“He runs with his head down,” Jones described. “Foose also ran with his head down. It’s funny because they’re half-brothers and they run with the same style. Their mother, Summertime Quickie, didn’t run that way, but her babies both do. It’s funny because not too many other horses run with that style. Flay puts his head down and just goes. The one thing about him is that the longer the race goes the stronger he goes. That’s the Favorite Cartel in him.”
“To win this race, the Spencer Childers, who is such an icon in this sport, it’s such a big thing,” Thompson added. “It’s great. We’re thrilled.”
Flay will now be pointed to the Los Alamitos Super Derby with the hope of earning another date with older horses in the $600,000 Champion of Champions in December.
“We might even take a chance in the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials,” Thompson concluded.
Hector Villalobos’ Forget It earned $20,500 for running second, while Jaime Gomez’s Fire Fortune made $10,000 for finishing third. Fiery Kimbo, Front And Center, Walk The Catwalk, Trust Me and Look Of A Dasher completed the field. Grade 1 winner He Looks Hot was scratched due to a temperature.
QUIRKY DEFENDS HER MATRON STAKES TITLE
Ed Allred’s Quirky successfully defended her Matron Stakes title while also becoming the first mare to win three stakes races on California Breeders Champions Night. With back-to-back wins in the Matron, Quirky also won the Debutante Stakes during her sophomore year in 2014. The now 5-year-old mare joins World Champions A Ransom and Be A Bono as the only horses with three victories on California’s premier racing night of racing for state-bred Quarter Horses.
Quirky also improved her record to nine wins in 17 career starts with eight of those victories coming in stakes races. A winner of the Charger Bar Handicap, Ivan Ashment Handicap, Matron, and Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap in 2015, Quirky has already won two stakes races this year thanks to successful title defenses in the Charger Bar and now the $40,000 Matron at 400 yards. Next she’ll look to defend her title in the Grade 1 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap to be held on Sunday, September 25. This was Quirky’s first start since the previously mentioned Charger Bar on January 6. She went to the breeding shed during her time away from the racetrack.
“She’s run in a lot of huge races, but it’s the first race back after a layoff where I’ve felt the most pressure,” said trainer James Glenn, Jr. “It’s good to have that pressure off. She ran great. She’s so special. She’s put me on the map.”
Ridden by Eulices Gomez, Quirky earned $22,000 after covering the distance in :19.853. She’s now banked $415,598 in her career. Miss Princess Handicap winner Vivid finished second, while multiple stakes winner Bac In Front ran third.