Flex­i­bil­ity stands out in With­ers

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - Front Page - By David Gren­ing

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Com­ing off a dom­i­nant vic­tory as the 1-2 fa­vorite in the Grade 3 Jerome Stakes here four weeks ago, Flex­i­bil­ity looms as an­other odds-on choice when he at­tempts his next steps down the Triple Crown trail in Satur­day’s Grade 3, $250,000 With­ers Stakes at Aqueduct.

Flex­i­bil­ity, a New York-bred son of 2006 Ken­tucky Derby run­ner-up Blue­grass Cat, rolled to a 4 1/4-length vic­tory in the Jerome, run at a mile and 70 yards over the in­ner track. At 1 1/16 miles, the With­ers is 40 yards far­ther. The com­pe­ti­tion is some­what tougher with the pres­ence of stakes win­ners Sunny Ridge and King Kranz in the field as well as Jerome run­ner-up Vor­tic­ity. Ad­ven­tist, an 11 1/4-length de­but win­ner sprint­ing, and Done­gal Moon, who stum­bled and un­seated his rider at the start of the Jerome, com­plete the field. Cards of Stone, a New York-bred maiden win­ner, was sold Thurs­day and will scratch, ac­cord­ing to his new con­nec­tions.

“I think it’s fair to say this race is tougher than the Jerome,” said Chad Brown, who trains Flex­i­bil­ity for own­ers Seth Klar­man and Wil­liam Lawrence. “Sunny Ridge looks for­mi­da­ble in there, he’s got good form, and we’re pick­ing up some weight off our last win. There’s def­i­nitely more chal­lenges in this race for Flex­i­bil­ity, but he’s train­ing like he’s up to it.”

Flex­i­bil­ity, the 122-pound high­weight, will break from post 2 un­der Irad Or­tiz Jr.

Sunny Ridge, a New Jersey­bred geld­ing by Holy Bull, is mak­ing his 3-year-old de­but. He won the Sapling and fin­ished se­cond in both the Grade 1 Cham­pagne and Grade 3 Delta Downs Jack­pot to com­plete his 2-year-old year. He will break from the out­side post un­der Manuel Franco.

KEY CON­TENDERS

Flex­i­bil­ity, by Blue­grass Cat (Last 3 Bey­ers: 90-93-86)

◗ He got a dream trip in the Jerome, sit­ting be­hind a three­ply speed duel be­fore tip­ping four wide at the five-six­teenths pole, tak­ing the lead by the quar­ter pole, and mov­ing away from the field de­spite drift­ing out un­der a left-handed whip. Prior to that win, Flex­i­bil­ity twice fin­ished se­cond to Mo­hay­men in graded stakes on Aqueduct’s main track.

“The big­gest thing I’m im­pressed with about this horse is the way he’s ma­tured men­tally the last 60 days,” Brown said. “He was a lit­tle quirky at times, shy­ing from stuff, want­ing to lean out a lit­tle bit. It was more be­hav­ioral with that horse. He’s breez­ing a lot more pro­fes­sional, and his last race, al­though he was wan­der­ing around a lit­tle bit af­ter he made the lead, when he has horses in front of him, he’s a lot more fo­cused than he was as a 2-year-old.”

Sunny Ridge, by Holy Bull (Last 3 Bey­ers: 92-86-76)

◗ He gave odds-on fa­vorite Ex­ag­ger­a­tor ev­ery­thing he could han­dle in the Delta Jack­pot – run over a sealed, muddy track – be­fore los­ing by a neck while fin­ish­ing 4 3/4 lengths clear of the field.

◗ Five horses have run back out of the Delta Jack­pot, with three win­ning their next starts and one run­ning se­cond.

◗ The last time he raced on a fast track, which should be the case Satur­day, was when he won the Sapling Stakes at a mile at Monmouth in Septem­ber.

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