Flameaway Upsets Heavily Favored Catholic Boy In Sam F. Davis

by | 02.10.2018 | 5:26pm
Flameaway turns back Catholic Boy in Sam F. Davis

According to the tote board, Catholic Boy (1-2) was going to walk all over the other five sophomore colts entered in Saturday's G3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. But when the favorite drew even with 10-1 frontrunner Flameaway at the head of the lane, there was another story to be told. Jose Lezcano and Flameaway re-rallied in the stretch and fought all the way to the wire, beating Catholic Boy by a half-length to earn 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The Ontario-bred son of Scat Daddy, trained by Mark Casse for John Oxley, covered 1 1/16 miles over Tampa's fast main track in 1:42.44.

“He's a fighter. If you've ever watched him, you've seen that,” Casse said. “With the track playing a little fast today, I told Jose (Lezcano) he was going to like this track. The one thing about him is, if he gets in a battle, he's going to win the battle. As long as the track is fairly firm, I think he'll run on anything. I would say there is a good chance (to return for the Grade II, $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby on March 10), but it's something I have to talk to Mr. (John) Oxley about. I would also say I was kind of wishy-washy about trying him on dirt, and Mr. Oxley said ‘Can we do it one more time?' He is the boss, so I said ‘Of course.' ”

With 10 points toward the Run for the Roses, Flameaway isn't even nominated to the Triple Crown, so its easy to say that he has deviated from the standard preparation for the classic. The colt won an off-the-turf version of the G3 Dixiana Bourbon at Keeneland last fall to earn his way into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, but faded after vying for the lead to finish eighth at Del Mar. To kick of his 2018 season, Casse ran the colt in the listed Kitten's Joy on the turf at Gulfstream. Flameaway won the 7 1/2-furlong contest by a hard-fought neck, but questions about his true surface preference and ability to handle the distance made 10-1 seem a reasonable price in the Davis.

Flameaway answered those questions and then some on Saturday. He and Leparoux set a comfortable first quarter fraction of :24.18, but were pressed a bit by Septimius Severus to mark the half in :47.73, meaning the colt covered the second quarter of the two-turn contest in 23.55 seconds. He never quite got another break after that, as Septimius Severus turned up the pressure heading into the turn. The three-wide favorite Catholic Boy had sat a comfortable trip off the front bunch, and loomed dangerously on the outside.

Mid-way through the turn Septimius Severus dropped out of the race, and it was just Catholic Boy and Flameaway battling for the lead at the top of the stretch.

The larger Catholic Boy's frame had Flameaway disappearing against the rail, but the chestnut colt wasn't finished. He was late changing leads in the stretch, but once he and Lezcano got organized they were in it to win. Catholic Boy had every chance to run by Flameaway but was unable to do so; the game chestnut simply refused to let the bigger horse pass him. At the wire, Flameaway had a half-length margin on Catholic Boy. The late-running Vino Rosso made a big run in the final eighth, but was only able to gain third before the wire.

Jonathan Thomas, trainer of the beaten favorite Catholic Boy, said: ”I really need to watch the race again, but I thought it was a big effort giving 6 pounds. I'm happy because it was a good effort. I just need to see it again and digest the race.”

Bred in Ontario by Phoenix Rising Farms, Flameaway is out of the winning Fusaichi Pegasus mare Vulcan Rose. He initially brought $150,000 as a short yearling at the Keeneland January sale. Returned to the ring for the Fasig-Tipton New York yearling sale, the colt brought $400,000 from Oxley. Now, he boasts a record of five wins in seven starts and earnings of over $460,000.

”He is a very nice horse who I think is improving with every race,” said Lezcano. “He's very quiet, not hyper at all, and he gives you what you ask for. I think he will be a nice horse in the future.”

  • NBA FAN

    “Jonathan Thomas, trainer of the beaten favorite Catholic Boy, said: ”I really need to watch the race again, but I thought it was a big effort giving 6 pounds. I’m happy because it was a good effort. I just need to see it again and digest the race.”

    I highly doubt 6 lbs. made a difference on a 1,200 pound TB. Stop looking for excuses. He had every chance to pass the other horse, just not good enough today.

    • RayPaulick

      A longtime racing secretary told me recently the rule of thumb for assigning weights in a handicap was two pounds per length in a two turn race. Based on that formula, the winner had a three-length advantage on weights.

      • NBA FAN

        With all due respect, I am going to disagree with that rule of thumb. European horses regularly carry 130+ lbs. and still run very strong races.

        • Always Curious

          Enable had a weight advantage in Europe and Frankie Dettori basically fasted for a week to lose another 7 lb. in the Huge race in France that I can’t spell. She would have won that anyway she was so dominant. She romped all over Europe. Then there are the handicap races.They may be counting stone in Europe and pounds here but weight is always a consideration for the horse & the bettor.

          • NBA FAN

            I agree if the difference is 12-15 lbs. But a 6 pound difference on a 1,200 TB
            is not going to make a significant difference. He had every chance to pass the front runner, but wasn’t good enough.

          • Neigh Sayer

            He only gave 2 pounds to the winner.

          • whirlaway

            Maybe it is new math, Catholic Boy 122, Flameaway 120, that is a 2 lb difference between 1st and 2nd place horses. Vino Rosso 116 lbs.

          • Neigh Sayer

            It wouldn’t matter if Frankie lost 100 pounds, the horse still has to carry the assigned weight in additional lead.

          • Steve Brabant

            It would if the assigned weight was 120 and Frankie weighed 123.

        • Piquetour

          So if it can be proven that weight doesn’t matter,maybe we can let jockeys stop starving themselves.

          • StrideBig

            Witty…love it!

          • NBA FAN

            LOL, a jockey can weigh 90 lbs. However, the horse must carry the assigned weight of — lbs. (fill the blank)

            I hope you knew this little nugget of information otherwise you’re clueless.

          • Piquetour

            Of course,I know that. A friend of mine was disqualified from a steeplechase for losing a weight over a jump. I am just saying that if all these comments seem to dispute the need for minimal weight,let all the jockeys gain some to be healthy.

      • Discopartner

        Flameaway only had 2# less than Catholic Boy, not 6.

  • George Rodrigues

    6 pounds at 1 1/16 and loses by half a length. Of course the weight made the difference.

    • Neigh Sayer

      6 pounds to most of the field, but only gave 2 pounds to Flameaway.

    • Mark Kennedy

      2 lbs to Flameaway

    • NBA FAN

      What scientific proof do you have to prove this statement??

      • Steve Brabant

        In part, gravity. : )

  • mondatta

    In regards to weights. The article says “The larger Catholic Boy’s frame had Flameaway disappearing against the rail”. So let’s say Catholic Boy weighs 1200 and Flameaway weighs 1100. Flameaway is actually carrying a higher percentage of weight than Catholic Boy. We obviously don’t know how much the horses weigh, but I think weight is overrated.

  • Michael Castellano

    There’s the weight of the horse itself, and their strength and endurance, and then there’s weight carried on their backs. Ever watch a horse who throws its jockey during a race, and then easily passes any horses in front with riders, even if that horse is the longest shot in the race? Yes, there’s a larger weight difference in the example, but the riderless horse can easily beat the competition if he wants to. Weight carried on the back in running shape is much more of a problem for a horse than the actual weight of the horse. Carried weight also matters more when a horse gets checked. One reason why riders often rather go wide in the final turn than risk going inside. Don’t forget, these horses have to run pretty close to the fastest they can run to win a given race. A 1200 pound horse carries about 10% of it’s body weight. With a human that weighs 150 pounds, that would be running with a 15 pound weight on their backs. I also would not assume that all horses are effected equally by the weights they carry.

    • CEOmike

      The riderless horse for about 3 of the first furlongs. The jockey’s are measuring and steering their mounts for position in the early stages, and a jockey is 120 lbs not 2.

      • Michael Castellano

        As fast as they are asked to run, a few pounds on some horses can make a difference. On any given day, a horse may have more or less “gas” in the tank, but if they both have the same amount, a few pounds over a mile or more can make the difference in a race. Riderless horses are not pushed to ride as fast as they might run in a race, I’ve seen them both “win or lose,” depending of how much and how long they feel like running.

  • Don’thaveaclue

    Two quotes strike me about Flameaway’s cictory today: First, the trainer said

    • Mark Kennedy

      He Has also raced 7 times vs 3 of the Curlin colt. Experience has its merits. I’ll take the Curlin colt to be the bigger star when the yr finishes

    • Steve Brabant

      Pace and track conditions favored Flameaway..so did conditioning and motivation to win this specific race. Flameaway ran great but moving forward I’ll take CB & VR.

  • Neigh Sayer

    For some reason everyone seems to think Catholic Boy gave 6 pounds to Flameaway, he gave that horse only 2 pounds and 6 to the rest of the field.

  • riatea

    My goal is to win the Kentucky Derby, if somebody said you can have any horse in this race, I’d take the Curlin colt, could be wrong but I’d take him.

    • CEOmike

      Vino Rosso? Solomini? or Good Magic?

      • riatea

        Thought we were only talking about the Sam F Davis, ya mean I can pick any Curlin? OK I guess Good Magic

  • Erubin

    With all due respect to the winner, the track was super fast so he set very slow fractions and it was very kind to speed all day. Several longshots who flashed speed stuck around late. IMO the winner was at best third best in the race.

    • Discopartner

      48.18 isn’t “very slow”, nor is 47.73.

      • erubin

        When bottom level claimers go 46.72 then yes, this was ridiculously slow pace on speed favoring track.

        • Discopartner

          You’re citing a shorter race. There were reasons to go at a moderate pace also.

    • CEOmike

      This horse has won 5 of 7 over all kinds of tracks, the two losses were more racing luck and tactical errors than any thing the horse did not do.

  • Figless

    Forget this group.

    • CEOmike

      Just to remind you Avery Island came back to win for points after being defeated by Catholic Boy. So to dismiss this group also dismisses, besides the Withers winner, Marconi who ran in that race with not the best run.

      • Figless

        Not impressed with the six horses in this race. Avery Island looked decent vs. a very ordinary group, and is bred to be any kind, not impressed by his win either but at least it was at a route of ground.

  • Larry Ensor

    IMO and experience anybody that thinks a 2 lb weight difference is going to be a deciding factor if a good horse wins or runs second. Would be better off keeping their money in their pocket.

    2 lbs extra on a 1,200 lb horse represents around .165% of it’s body weight. Absurd to think that is going to make any difference. If it was a 160 lb human runner that would be around 4 extra ounces of weight. I used to run/train run long distance for mountain climbing. I weighed around 130 at the time. I would throw an extra 15+ lbs (12%) in a small backpack strapped down tight against my body. I could cover 4-5 miles in the same times once I was good and fit.

    I could carry more than half my body weight up some pretty serious mountains on 2 legs. I could carry over 100 lbs weighing 140+ myself at times.

    I’ve galloped plenty of horses weighing 160-170 next to horses with riders weight 110-120, My horses didn’t “struggle” next to the feather weights.

    • CEOmike

      There are four scientific studies that confirm what you said, the fourth measures ROI to weights and determines that a lighter horse will return more bet than a horse carrying weight. The critism of this study is it does not consider whether bettors shy away from low weight horses for the reasons they get the low eight in the first place, experience, record and class.

      • Just The Facts

        This same conversation came up in an article last week with the Holy Bull here on Paulick. I think if I remember correctly that weight descrepency amounted to 2 lengths. I will have to go back and read a little to refresh my memory.
        But I have to agree with other trainer’s comments, Why are they allowing Any weight differences in KD Point races? In the derby they will all carry 126 except fillies that carry 121. Beyer Ratings are calculated with the weight the horse is carrying.

  • sandersdogman

    A wait and see race. Time was faster than older NW 3OT earlier but that condition at TB is a 25k purse. Cathoilic Boy had decent credentials going in.

  • CEOmike

    For all the discussion about weights, why did Vino Rosso not win by three lengths.

  • NBA FAN

    For all the weight arguments…..Anyone here really know what exercise jockeys weigh?

    When horses are jogging, galloping or breezing, they do so with exercise jockeys that can weigh in excess of 125-135 lbs. This is done almost every day in one form or another.

    Just like professional athletes carry extra weight and run in deep sand, uphill, etc. to increase endurance and stamina.

    • Larry Ensor

      This one weighed 150-160+. My other riders usually between the 120-140+. Most American jump jocks are in the 130+- for hurdle races. 140+ to 160+- for Timber races.

      Anybody that thinks 2-4+ lbs is a “handicap” for a good horse has never trained a good horse from it back, in the saddle.

      I was never a professional athlete, not many professional mountain/rock climbers or skiers. But I trained the same. As I said in an earlier comment.

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