Preakness Stakes Profile: Flying Private
by Trevor Whenham - 05/07/2009
Last race: Someone has to finish last in every race, and Flying Private had that dubious distinction in the Kentucky Derby. He got off to a solid start and was in good contention early, but he was forced five wide on the first turn and that was the beginning of the end. He held on for five furlongs and then appeared to quit, falling to the back of the pack and staying there. He never looked comfortable at any time in the race. There are all sorts of potential excuses for that - the size of the field, the noise from the crowd, the wet surface, and so on.
Career highlights: There are certainly more accomplished runners in the field. The horse has just one win in 11 races, and none in seven starts this year. His best race, and his only graded stakes showing, was a second-place finish to fellow Derby contender Hold Me Back in the Lane's End stakes. He followed that up with an uninspired fifth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby won by Papa Clem. It was only due to the injuries suffered by many top Derby contenders leading up to the Run for the Roses that Flying Private had enough earnings to make the field.
Jockey: None yet. Israel Campo had been riding him before the Derby. He was replaced by Robby Albarado for the big race, but horse and rider obviously didn't mesh, and it seems doubtful that they will pair up again. It might be a while until a rider is named, because few jockeys would want to jump on this one if they had a shot at a better ride.
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas. Though he seems, for now at least, to be in the twilight of his career, Lukas is a legendary trainer that has particularly shone in the Triple Crown. He has 14 Triple Crown wins, including five in the Preakness. He once won six straight Triple Crown races starting with the Preakness in 1994. His last Preakness win was in 1999 with Charismatic. He came very close to winning the Triple Crown that year, and probably would have if he hadn't suffered a broken leg in the stretch of the Belmont. His last Triple Crown win was the 2000 Belmont with Commendable.
Breeding: His performance might not give him Triple Crown credibility, but his breeding certainly does. His sire, Fusaichi Pegasus, won the Kentucky Derby in 2000 as a heavy favorite - the first favorite to win since 1979. He was beaten in the Preakness and skipped the Belmont. Flying Private's dam, Beautiful Treasure, was sired by Unbridled, the 1990 Derby winner.
Racing Style: It's not particularly nice to say, but Flying Private's running style can best be summarized in one way - he's just not very fast. In his best races, he has found himself at or near the lead at the top of the stretch and has tried to hold on. He hasn't. He doesn't have the speed to lead a race early on, but you can look for him to be near the front end of the pack if he is having a good day. He showed signs of improvement before the Arkansas Derby, and could potentially be a more successful horse if he could settle into a running style that suits him.
Preakness prognosis: Bleak. Mine That Bird showed us that anything can happen, but it's very hard to believe that this horse can be a legitimate contender in the Preakness. Though I give Lukas tremendous credit for all he has accomplished in his career, and he clearly seems to believe in something about this horse, I just can't figure out what it is. A win by Flying Private in the Preakness would be a bigger upset than Mine That Bird was in the Derby.