The dissimilarities of internationals at The Spa

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TwinSpires Staff

August 28th, 2016

by Ron Flatter

They both came to America with group wins from overseas. Both carried the ambitions of the Arab royalty that own them. And they are both six-year-olds in training with stud careers in their long-term future.

But for Flintshire and Tamarkuz, that is where the similarities end.

With a win in the 2014 Hong Kong Vase and a pair of runner-up finishes in the last two runnings of the Prix de l’Arc de Triopmhe in Paris, Flintshire has padded his record with a permanent move to the U.S.  He is now four-for-four in America, including his second consecutive win Saturday in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Stakes on the turf here at Saratoga.

“We thought it would be just a bit easier here,” said Dr. John Chandler, president of Prince Khalid bin Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms. “Each time he raced in Europe he met a super horse like Trêve or Golden Horn (in the Arc). He showed us last year when he came over and won this race that it would be easiest here to win a lot more races.”

Conversely, Tamarkuz has not been able to parlay his win in last year’s Godolphin Mile on Dubai World Cup night into U.S. success.  After finishing out of the money his first four races in America, he finally hit the board for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Shadwell Farm.  As a 20-1 long shot he closed impressively to place second to favored A.P. Indian on the dirt here in Saturday’s Grade 1 Forego Stakes.

“We were a long shot coming off a bad race,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “We had excuses. He was coming off a long layoff, and he ran into Frosted (in the Met Mile). Frosted winning by 14 makes it look like he ran worse, but it was not that bad. He needed the run there, and he ran huge here.  We’re really thrilled.”

Both Flintshire and Tamarkuz are being targeted for the Breeders’ Cup this fall at Santa Anita. For Flintshire that is a far different ambition than this time a year ago, when he was literally flying the opposite direction to race in France and Hong Kong. Now Chandler and trainer Chad Brown say the $9 million winner sired by Dansili may race in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park before taking dead aim on the Breeders’ Cup Turf, which he qualified for with Saturday’s victory.

Brown said the only real change in Flintshire’s routine has been the conditions and tactics he sees on U.S. tracks.

“I think the races set up differently in America,” Brown said. “We tend to get firmer turf over here. There’s more pace in the races.”

Brown admitted he was “lucky to have him” after Juddmonte transferred Flintshire from the stable of legendary French trainer André Fabre last winter.

“We’ve known Chad for a long time,” Chandler said. “I saw him the first week he started working for (the late) Bobby Frankel at Hollywood Park (in 2002). He’s been associated with our horses for a long time. The Prince usually likes to give a trainer a chance to prove something, and once Chad had shown what a good trainer he was, the Prince said now is the time.”

“This horse came to me as a great racehorse already,” Brown said. “I can’t tell you enough how much I’m just trying to keep him where he’s at. I keep him happy and healthy, and he does the rest.”

For Shadwell, it has been a more difficult transition moving Tamarkuz from Dubai-based Musabah Al Muhairi to McLaughlin, but it has nothing to do with the trainers.

“He’s been running in all Grade 1s here, and it is a tough deal,” said Joseph DeSantis, Shadwell’s assistant racing manager in the U.S. “The sprinters in Dubai, as good as they are, just aren’t as good as they are here. I think a little bit of quality has been a difference.”

The horse by Speightstown got eight months off after his first three U.S. races last year. Then came the buzz saw that was Frosted in June’s Met Mile. But add jockey Mike Smith’s patience and tactical know-how for the first time Saturday, and a glimmer of Tamarkuz’s promise may have been seen in Saturday’s Forego.

“We would probably go ahead and look (at the Kelso Handicap) at Belmont, and if everything went well we would look at the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile,” Chandler said. “But he has to take us there. We can’t push him there.”

McLaughlin seconded that, saying Tamarkuz might finally be coming into his own – and not just for the short haul.

“He still has a lot of races in him here hopefully the rest of the year,” McLaughlin said. “Maybe we can win one of these Grade 1s and he can stay in stud here in America.”

Travers morning photo courtesy of Spencer Tulis/