Belmont Stakes Profile: Flying Private
by Trevor Whenham - 05/28/2009
Last race: Flying Private did himself proud in the Preakness by seriously exceeding expectations. He went off at odds of 25/1, and for much of the race he justified that price, sitting near the back of the field and showing little spark. He made a nice move in the last quarter mile, though, moving with Mine That Bird for a while, and eventually securing a strong fourth-place finish. His presence in the superfecta certainly made a few lucky bettors happy.
Career highlights: Flying Private has won just once in 12 career races - a maiden win in his third time out last August. He showed real progress in his next six races, finishing second four times and fourth twice against increasingly difficult company. The highlight was a second in the Lane's End at Turfway to Derby entrant Hold Me Back. From there the progress slowed - he was a dull fifth in the Arkansas Derby and had the dubious distinction of crossing the wire last in the Derby.
Jockey: Alan Garcia. Garcia took over the mount from Robby Albarado in the Preakness, and he certainly looks to have done enough to keep the job. Garcia is the ninth different rider to have been on the horse. Garcia, a 23-year-old Peruvian who showed his promise by winning the incredibly tough Saratoga meet last year, is a perfect choice to ride a longshot in the Belmont - he rode Da' Tara to a stunning win at 38/1 last year.
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas. Lukas is getting on in years, but he was the master of the Triple Crown races in the 1980s and 1990s. He has four wins in the Derby and Belmont, and five in the Preakness. In 1995 he won all three races with two different horses. His last classic win came in 2000 at the Belmont with Commendable. That horse had won just once - nine months before the Belmont - and was 17th in the Derby, so Lukas has shown the ability to win this race with a horse that comes from nowhere.
Pedigree: Flying Private is a son of Fusaichi Pegasus, the winner of the Derby in 2000. He is a son of Mr. Prospector, a runner in the classic races in 1973 when Secretariat won the Triple Crown who went on to become one of the all-time great sires. His progeny have won an incredible 33 Triple Crown races. One of Mr. Prospector's grandsons, 1990 Derby winner Unbridled, is the sire of Flying Private's dam. This horse might not have distinguished himself on the track yet, but he's very well bred, and he should be able to handle the distance here.
Racing style: Though he broke his maiden leading the race most of the way, he seems to be at his best in recent outings when he sits well of the pace and mounts a closing effort towards the end. He certainly won't be alone in that approach here - Mine That Bird and Summer Bird will both be doing the same thing.
Belmont prognosis: I was impressed by the improvement the horse showed in the Preakness, but I don't give him more than a tiny chance of pulling off a win here. He's not the best horse with his running style, never mind the best horse in the race. He might get a chance in the lower end of my exotics, but I don't see Lukas adding to his win total here.