FRENCH INVADOR FLAMBOYANT FLIES LATE TO WIN $75,000 LA PUENTE STAKES UNDER NAKATANI; GALLAGHER TRAINEE UP TO WIN GOING 1 1/8 MILES ON TURF BY A NECK

ARCADIA, Calif. (April 19, 2014)—Purchased following a second place finish in a minor stakes in mid-January by Chuck Winner and David Bienstock, French-bred Flamboyant was impressive in his U.S. debut, as he flew late to win Saturday’s $75,000 La Puente Stakes by a neck under Corey Nakatani while covering 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:47.45.

Although runner-up Home Run Kitten got first run on him a furlong out, the Paddy Gallagher-trained Flamboyant was angled out by Nakatani and found his best stride late to win going away.

Off at 6-1, Flamboyant sat fifth early in a field of eight 3-year-olds and was full of run in behind a three-horse spread at the top of the lane that was comprised of pacesetter Diamond Bachelor, favored Enterprising and Home Run Kitten.

“I went religious at the top of the stretch,” said the always quotable Gallagher. “Nakatani got to the outside and he really had to run to catch Home Run Kitten. That other horse (Diamond Bachelor), he’s a good horse too.”

Flamboyant paid $15.00, $7.00 and $3.60. With the winner’s share of $47,400, he more than doubled his earnings to $92,788. His overall mark now stands at 6-2-2-2.

“I didn’t know anything about him going in,” said Nakatani. “Paddy told me in the paddock that he’s a good feeling horse and just to try and get him switched off and be patient. He hadn’t run in a while, but Paddy said he’d been showing a good turn of foot in the mornings.”

Co-owner Winner, who is Chairman of the CHRB, said that although he’d seen Flamboyant’s races on tape, he hadn’t seen him run in person prior to the purchase.

“The day I went to see him, it was cold and rainy,” said Winner, who has owned horses for the better part of four decades. “I got out of my car and they jogged him and I just liked what I saw and what I felt.”

For his part, Bienstock, who quarterbacks Santa Anita’s telemarketing efforts in the Los Angeles area, was thankful to get his picture taken amongst a group that included Eddie and Juanita Delahoussaye and Cedric the Entertainer.

“I thought Keith (Brackpool, Santa Anita President) had closed off the Winner’s Circle, it’s been so (expletive deleted) long since I’ve been down here!”

Ridden by Joe Talamo, Home Run Kitten sat a close second to Diamond Bachelor to the top of the lane and spurted a length clear of both Enterprising and the winner leaving the furlong pole but couldn’t repel Flamboyant’s late charge.

“He ran great, we had a super trip, we just got outrun,” said Talamo. “The winner is really something, because my horse was really moving at the end.”

The second choice at 3-1, Home Run Kitten finished 1 ½ lengths in front of Enterprising and paid $4.20 and $2.60.

Ridden by Gary Stevens, Enterprising appeared to be full of run around the far turn but couldn’t match strides with the top two late. Off at 6-5, he paid $2.10 to show.

Santa Anita’s 69-day Winter Meet will come to a close tomorrow with first post time for a nine-race card at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates will open at 10:30 a.m. The track’s first-ever Spring Meeting will open on Friday, April 25, and will conclude June 29.