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Can Flashpoint Ignite the Field at Pimlico Park

by Michael Kashin on Friday, May 20th, 2011

As we run down the list of long-shots in the 136th Preakness Stakes, there are a few horses including Flashpoint that will not be part of many people’s horse racing picks on Saturday. Flashpoint did not run in the Kentucky Derby a few weeks ago, although I can’t help but wonder how well he could’ve fared. Flashpoint has exceptional early speed and could have gone a long way on the front end if he had been at Churchill Downs last weekend. By virtue of his Hutcheson (gr. II) win and his fourth-place finish in the Florida Derby (gr. I), Flashpoint was eligible for the Derby in terms of graded earnings. However, his owner, John Fort, decided to shoot for the May 21 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), where he will have stronger horse racing odds than he would’ve at the Derby.

After watching the front runners set some of the softest opening fractions in the past quarter century of the Kentucky derby, Fort admits that he has thought about what might have been. Flashpoint is listed as a 15-1 long-shot at and I believe he will be part of the front half of the field at Pimlico Park. I’m not sure if I will include him in my trifecta, but he is worth keeping an eye on until race time. Flashpoint, who did not race as a 2-year-old, has two wins and a fourth in three career starts, and the 13/16th mile Preakness will be his longest. His triumphs, one in a stakes, came in overwhelming fashion at seven furlongs, and he ran fourth in the 11/8th mile Florida Derby.

Fort and trainer Wesley Ward expect Shackleford to set the pace, just as he did in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby. Ideally, Flashpoint would run three to four lengths off the pace and make his move with about a quarter-mile to go. He has drawn the number-four post position, which means that he will have to work to get away from the rail and cement himself right in the middle of the pack. His team seems to have a sound strategy, but it won’t matter if he has to navigate through too much traffic.

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