A Flamboyant $94.20 upset of the San Gabriel

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

January 3rd, 2016

Overlooked at 46-1 in Saturday’s $201,500 San Gabriel (G2), Flamboyant handsomely rewarded those who stuck with him despite a 10-race losing streak. The French import rediscovered his fine form, dating back to early 2014, and ran down front-running 5-2 favorite Obviously in the shadow of the wire.

Maybe the recent partnership with Brice Blanc has helped -- trainer Paddy Gallagher quipped afterward that the jockey might speak French to him. And Blanc said that he does indeed talk to him in their native tongue. But whatever’s gotten inside Flamboyant’s head has finally worked.

Snapped up by David Bienstock and Charles Winner after some useful efforts in the provinces for Jean-Claude Rouget, Flamboyant made an immediate splash in his U.S. debut in the 2014 La Puente. He shipped to New York for the Pennine Ridge, a local prep for the lucrative Belmont Derby Invitational (G1), and missed by only a head. And versus an international cast in the Belmont Derby, Flamboyant closed for third to Mr Speaker and Adelaide. Notables finishing behind him that day included Gailo Chop, Toast of New York, Bobby’s Kitten and Pornichet.

Yet Flamboyant was disappointing for the remainder of the season. Indeed, he stopped badly when trailing behind California Chrome in the 2014 Hollywood Derby (G1) as though something were amiss. Not seen again until last spring, he was seventh in a pair of optional claimers, and sixth in both the July 22 Wickerr and the August 22 Del Mar H. (G2).

Teaming up with Blanc for the first time in an October 22 optional claimer at Santa Anita, Flamboyant showed signs of life to miss by a nose in a three-way photo. Gallagher entered him in the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) on Thanksgiving, but he didn’t draw in from the also-eligible list. That may have worked to his advantage. Aside from facing The Pizza Man there, Flamboyant would have been tackling 1 1/2 miles, only to drop back in trip on Saturday. The San Gabriel is contested over the same nine-furlong distance as the La Puente, so in some sense Flamboyant has come full circle.

As Obviously scrambled to the front and carved out fractions of :23.26 and :46.60, the patient Blanc settled Flamboyant far off the pace. Obviously was taking no prisoners in this first attempt beyond a mile, and the speedster continued to wing along merrily through six furlongs in 1:10.27.

Bal a Bali tried to chase in earnest leaving the far turn, but couldn’t threaten. Instead, Flamboyant was making the best headway riding the rail.

Obviously was not showing any signs of stopping in midstretch, reaching the mile in 1:34.36. Flamboyant had to come and get him, and so he did. Under Blanc’s tender handling, the longshot collared the pacesetter by a neck and clocked a sprightly 1:46.64.

In addition to sparking mutuels of $94.20, $33.40 and $13.80, Flamboyant topped the $246.40 exacta, $1,133.60 trifecta and the $13,625.40 superfecta (1-8-7-3) ($1 exotics).

Bal a Bali, who by this point had drifted toward the center of the course, checked in a further 2 1/4 lengths astern in third. There was a gap of 4 1/4 lengths back to Poshsky in fourth. Chiropractor and Big John B were never in the hunt when seventh and eighth, respectively.

Flamboyant’s scorecard now stands at 18-4-3-4, $398,355. By the Sunday Silence stallion Peer Gynt, the bay gelding hails from the extended family of Grade 1-winning millionaire Atticus, who set a world record of 1:31.89 for a mile on turf in the 1997 Arcadia H. (G2) at Santa Anita. A nearer relation is Kenzadargent, victorious in the May 25 Miss Liberty and second in the June 27 Eatontown (G3) at Monmouth.

Quotes courtesy of Santa Anita

Jockey Brice Blanc on Flamboyant: “I speak to him in French, it must work!

“He’s been working really, really well and I think he cares for this course as well. He ran really well for me last fall and he just didn’t get a chance to run during Del Mar, the race didn’t go; the patience has paid off, though. There was plenty of pace to run at today, which I think is great because he seems like once he settles down, he can finish up and really make a nice run. He has a tremendous turn of foot when he uses it and I think he’s got a lot of back class.

“This was a tough bunch on paper, quite a few nice horses. I think the mile and an eighth helped me and it didn’t help some of the others.”

Trainer Paddy Gallagher on Flamboyant: “Maybe Brice speaks the same language. We gelded the horse (April 25, 2015), but ever since Brice has ridden him, he’s done everything right, so whatever language he speaks, it must be working.”

Jockey Joe Talamo on runner-up Obviously: “He was doing it so easily today, that was a tough loss. I had a lot of horse turning for home. That’s the slowest he’s been in a while so I was glad he was able to relax. It’s just a tough beat but he definitely handled the distance well.”

Photo courtesy of Benoit