Three-Year-Olds Might Have the Edge in Flying Five Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

September 14th, 2018

Sunday’s Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes (Eng-I) at the Curragh in Ireland might not be the toughest Group 1 sprint you’ll ever find, but the race is nevertheless a “Win and You’re In” prep race for the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. I) and is worth watching for that reason alone. British bookmakers perceive a pair of three-year-olds as having an edge over their older rivals in this five-furlong sprint, ranking Havana Grey as the favorite over fellow sophomore Sioux Nation. Havana Grey’s status as the top choice seems well deserved, considering that he’s won twice at the Group 2/Group 3 level and was runner-up in the Darley Prix Morny (Fr-I) last summer. Remarkably, 12 of his 13 starts have comer over this five-furlong distance, including a respectable fifth-place effort against a much tougher field in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (Eng-I) last time out.

As for Sioux Nation, he’s actually achieved a higher level of success than Havana Grey thus far, prevailing in the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes (Ire-I) as a juvenile. However, his recent efforts have been a bit lackluster, including an eighth-place finish in the Nunthorpe, so this -trained colt will be looking to regain lost form on Sunday.

O’Brien will also be represented by the three-year-olds Battle of Jericho, tenth in the Nunthorpe and winner of a sprint at Navan last Saturday; and Different League, who wasn’t disgraced when finishing sixth in the King’s Stand Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot.

The best of the older runners is considered to be Hit The Bid, runner-up in a listed race at Tipperary on August 30th. However, the four-year-old son of Exceed and Excel has not made a serious impact at the group stakes level since winning a Group 3 over this course more than two years ago, so he could be hard-pressed to keep up with his younger rivals in the Flying Five Stakes. Meanwhile, the 11-year-old veteran Take Cover finished sixth in the Nunthorpe Stakes before coming right back to win the Beverly Bullet Sprint Stakes at Beverly, a clear indication that he remains in good form despite his advanced age.

Completing the field are the longshots Gorane, Son Of Rest, and Now You’re Talking, who have combined to win just five of their 39 starts. All three have run the occasional quality race against group stakes company, but even with the Flying Five Stakes failing to attract the best of Europe’s sprinters, they’ll need to step up their games to be competitive.

The Flying Five Stakes is the third race of the day at the Curragh, with a post time of 9:05 a.m. Eastern.