ELMONT, N.Y. – Repole Stable and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Moretti took command in the early running and never looked back, defeating reigning G1 Belmont Stakes-winner Sir Winston in Thursday’s $80,000 Flat Out going 1 3/8 miles at Belmont Park.
A distant sixth in his lone stakes effort in last year’s Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct, the 4-year-old Medaglia d’Oro bay arrived at the dirt marathon over Big Sandy off an allowance victory on May 2 at Oaklawn Park, which was his third start of the year.
Piloted by Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, Moretti came out of the gate on top and led the field of nine into the first turn with Expert, Blugrasscat’s Smile and You’re to Blame keeping close company through an opening quarter in 24.79 seconds over a muddy and sealed main track.
Approaching the half-mile marker, Moretti extended his lead to 2 ½ lengths, recording the split in 48.97 seconds.
Around the far turn, Sir Winston began making up ground and confronted the pacesetter at the mile-marker.
Moretti began kicking clear at the top of the stretch as Sir Winston battled to the outside of Expert for the runner-up spot. Under a hand ride, Moretti won by 5 ¼ lengths in a final time of 2:16.31. Sir Winston edged Expert by a head for second.
2020 Flatout replay
Completing the order of finish were multiple stakes-winner Rocketry, You’re to Blame, Adventist, Prompt Legit and Blugrascat’s Smile.
The win was a third stakes triumph of the meet for Castellano, who also piloted Rushing Fall and Vekoma to respective victories in the Grade 2 Beaugay and the G1 Runhappy Carter.
Castellano, who also guided Moretti to his last out allowance victory, believed that he might find himself on the lead due to the race’s lack of standout pace.
“The way I handicapped the race, it seemed to me like I was the only speed,” Castellano said. “The horse broke well and I let him dictate the pace. He’s a straightforward horse.”
Todd Pletcher, who won his third straight Flat Out after saddling Hard Study (2018) and Marconi (2019) to victory, was delighted to see everything go according to plan.
“When Javier [Castellano] and I spoke in the paddock, we talked about how he might be the speed of the race,” Pletcher said. “I said just to let him run into the first turn and if he found himself comfortably on the lead, that’s great, and if someone else is ambitious, not to get into a pace duel. When he got into that rhythm, it looked like he was travelling really well.”
As Moretti matured, Pletcher said he expected to see improvement out of him. He saw exactly that.
“He’s always been a steady galloper and he seems like he’s come around in his last couple of starts,” Pletcher said. “He’s really found himself and seems like he’s improving, which is really what we expected all along. The older he got, the better he would get.”
Pletcher said that a next-out start in the Grade 2, $200,000 Suburban on July 4 at Belmont Park is “in the cards” for his newly-crowned stakes winner.
Moretti, who returned $10.40 for a $2 win bet, collected a third career victory in nine lifetime starts while upping his bankroll to $161,150 after cashing $44,000 for the win.
Bred in Kentucky by Thoro-Bred Stables, Moretti is out of the G1-winning Concerto broodmare Rigoletta who also produced G1-winning millionaire Battle of Midway. He was purchased for $900,000 from the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale, where he was consigned by Gainesway.
Live racing resumes Friday with a 10-race card highlighted by the $125,000 Commentator for New York-bred 4-year-olds and up going one mile on the main track in Race 9 at 5:36 p.m. Eastern. First post is 1:15 p.m.
Photo: Moretti. Credit: Coglianese Photos/Chelsea Durand