‘We Retired Him Sound’: Former Maryland Turf Champion Phlash Phelps On To Eventing Career

by | 09.11.2019 | 12:53pm
Phlash Phelps, now retired, was denied in his bid for a third Maryland Million Turf victory in 2018

Phlash Phelps, a four-time turf stakes winner and the 2015 champion Maryland-bred grass horse for Ellen Charles' Hillwood Stable and Laurel Park-based trainer Rodney Jenkins, has been retired.

The gelded 8-year-old son of Great Notion bred by Carol Kaye was winless in three 2019 starts, most recently finishing fifth by 2 ¼ lengths in the 5 ½-furlong Ben's Cat Stakes July 14, beaten two heads for third.

Named for Gordon 'Phlash' Phelps, the Towson, Md. native and popular host of a Washington, D.C.-based morning drive-time program on SiriusXM satellite radio, Phlash Phelps had worked once since the Ben's Cat, a five-furlong breeze in 1:02.60 Aug. 25 at Laurel. 

“We've been talking about it all year and it just got to the point where you either drill on him hard to make the Maryland Million and try to win it a third time, or not. So we stopped,” Jenkins said. “We retired him sound.” 

Ridden primarily throughout his career by 2013 Eclipse Award-winning apprentice Victor Carrasco, Phlash Phelps was purchased for $85,000 out of Fasig-Tipton's Midlantic 2012 Fall Yearling Sale and retires with seven wins, four seconds, four thirds and $434,801 in purse earnings from 17 career starts.

It took seven tries for Phlash Phelps to break his maiden, kicking off a four-race win streak capped by victories in the 2015 Find Stakes and Maryland Million Turf, earning him the Maryland-bred grass championship.

Phlash Phelps won the Maryland Million Turf again in 2016 and the Mister Diz Stakes in June 2017, his most recent victory. An injury kept him from the Maryland Million in 2017 but he returned last fall to be second, beaten a half-length by Talk Show Man, in his bid to become the first three-time Turf winner.

According to Equibase statistics, Phlash Phelps retires as the richest horse the 75-year-old Jenkins – a winner of 909 races including the 2014 General George (G3) with Bandbox and 2002 Leonard Richards (G3) with Running Tide – has ever trained.

“He's fine. We've had him long enough and he's been in training forever,” Jenkins said. “He's done so much for us. We'll sure miss him. You always miss the good ones.” 

Phlash Phelps is now in the care of Sabrina Morris, a long-time exercise rider for Jenkins that has been getting on the horse since he first came into the barn. Morris also competes in three-day eventing and is eager to help Phlash Phelps make the transition to a new career. 

“She's going to make an event horse out of him. She really likes the horse,” Jenkins, a member of the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame and the Show Jumping Hall of Fame and Thoroughbred trainer since 1991, said. “She'll turn him out for four or five months and just let him down and then start him back up.

“He's a nice horse to be around and he would be a great addition to anybody's stable,” he added. “He has a lot of personality and he tried real hard. He was a real nice horse, quiet, smart.”

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