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AFTER FOUR GRADED SETBACKS, SEBASTIAN FLYTE BLITZES ALLOWANCE FIELD; ‘HE WAS SO MUCH BETTER, IT ALMOST SCARED ME,’ SAYS GOMEZ
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 7, 2011) – After competitive efforts in four graded stakes races, either Grade I or Grade II events, Sebastian Flyte had little trouble in dispatching six opponents Thursday in Santa Anita’s $61,924 allowance feature at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
Ridden by Garrett Gomez, the 4-year-old British-bred colt closed resolutely on the far outside to take control in midstretch and widen to a 1 ¾-length victory over Do It All. The winning time was 1:48.03.
Not only had Sebastian Flyte been facing tougher competition in his previous four races, but he had been difficult to handle in his last pair while pulling against the rider.
“He was traveling real well today,” Gomez said in the winner’s circle on Thursday. “He really hadn’t been traveling that well in his last two. He was so much better today, it almost scared me.”
Bet down to 9-5 favoritism, Sebastian Flyte paid $5.60, $4 and $3. Longshot Do It All, who edged Tiz Argent by a half-length for the place while ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, returned $12.20 and $7.40. Tiz Argent, with Rafael Bejarano aboard, paid $3.80 to show.
Trained by Ben Cecil for Triple B Farms, Thursday’s victory came in Sebastian Flyte’s sixth race in the United States after being imported from Ireland. He had raced six times in Ireland and once in England before coming to the U.S. late last summer.
Sebastian Flyte won his stateside debut in an optional claimer before embarking on an ambitious stretch of four stakes races. He was fourth, beaten by less than one length in the Grade II Oak Tree Derby. He lost by a neck to Haimish Hy in the Grade I Hollywood Derby.
The chestnut colt began the Santa Anita season by running third behind Bourbon Bay and Champ Pegasus in the Grade II San Marcos Stakes. In his last start, he was a troubled sixth, just over three lengths behind Flute and Caracortado in the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile.
Trainer Cecil had expressed concern about the quality of Thursday’s field – each entrant had been a stakes competitor – and the temporary rail setting 24 feet from the inside of the turf course. The positioning tends to favor speed horses.
But his fears were unfounded as Sebastian Flyte earned $35,400 to bring his career total to $197,403 from an overall record of 3-2-3 in 14 starts.
“He did it well,” Cecil said afterward. “I think the mile last time was too short for him. A mile-and-one-eighth is his best trip. We’ve always been very high on him, and hopefully this is the start of better things.”
The trainer said the Grade I Woodford Reserve on Derby Day, May 7, at Churchill Downs, would be considered for Sebastian Flyte’s next start.
Racing continues on Friday, Santa Anita Derby Eve, with an eight-race program that commences at 1 p.m.