Flying Connection looks to fly home in G2 Bed o’ Roses (2024)

Stakes Advance

Jun 11, 2024

Flying Connection looks to fly home in G2 Bed o’ Roses (1)

Adam Coglianese Photo

by Christian Abdo

Flying Connection looks to make the grade in her first start for trainer Rob Atras in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Bed o' Roses, a seven-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares, at Belmont at the Big A.

The 4-year-old Nyquist bay brings an impressive 15 race record of 7-2-2 with $937,300 in earnings assembled under the care of conditioner Todd Fincher, who saddled her to two Grade 1-placings this year when third last-out in the seven-furlong Derby City Distaff in May at Churchill Downs and second in the 1 1/16-mile Apple Blossom Handicap in April at Oaklawn Park.

“She is a big filly. She has a really big, powerful stride. Especially when galloping out in her works. What I’m seeing right now, I’m hoping she can duplicate in the afternoon,” said Atras regarding his first impressions of the talented newcomer.

Flying Connection [post 6, Ricardo Santana, Jr., 122 pounds] rallied from off-the-pace in her recent Grade 1 placings, including last-out when coming from fifth-of-10 to finish within 2 3/4 lengths of the victorious Vahva and three-quarter-lengths back of next-out stakes winner Alva Starr, who are regarded as two of the top dirt sprinting females in the nation. The performance earned a career-best 98 Beyer Speed Figure.

She has worked three times over the Belmont Park dirt training track, including a half-mile in 50 seconds flat on June 5.

“Todd shipped her in about a week before her race at Churchill and we got to know her a bit. She ran great that day,” said Atras. “I’m glad we could get her acclimated to New York, she has worked really well and I’m hoping she can run just as good as when Todd had her.”

Owned by Brad King, Randy Andrews, Chris Coleman, Jim Cone, Suzanne Kirby, and Lee Lewis, Flying Connection seeks an elusive graded stakes score in her sixth attempt including an additional runner-up finish in one-mile Grade 3 Torrey Pines in September at Del Mar. She also finished off-the-board in the Grade 2 San Clemente there after a pacesetting sixth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill.

“She is very versatile. I think she can run good around two turns, one mile, or seven-eighths,” Atras said. “I think she is just a really nice filly that shows up every time.”

Last year, Flying Connection captured the Listed Zia Park Oaks and Listed Sunland Park Oaks, both run at 1 1/16 miles at their namesake courses.

Out of the Grade 1-placed Quiet American mare Free Flying Soul, who was third in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, Flying Connection was a $250,000 purchase at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

WellSpring Stables’ Grade 1-winner Leave No Trace [post 9, Jose Lezcano, 124 pounds] has returned to form in her last two outings which coincided with a return to dirt sprinting for trainer Phil Serpe.

She posted her first win since the Grade 1 Spinaway in September 2022 when taking an optional-claiming sprint in March here before returning to the stakes winner’s circle last out with a gritty score in the Grade 3 Vagrancy on May 18 at Belmont at the Big A.

Serpe said the return to form kept Leave No Trace from becoming a broodmare.

"Two starts back when she won, it could have been the final race of her career," Serpe said. "Fortunately, she won, and she ran very well last time out in the Vagrancy. This is the next step in the direction that we're trying to take."

The now 4-year-old Outwork dark bay won the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga Race Course as a 2-year-old en route to a third-place finish in that year’s one-turn mile Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont at the Big A and a runner-up effort to Wonder Wheel going two turns in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland.

Leave No Trace failed to hit the board in her next five outings from March 2023 through January 27 while racing over dirt, turf and synthetic, but regained her mojo in the aforementioned neck win of a local optional-claiming dirt sprint in March. Last out, Leave No Trace pressed the pace of returning rival Beguine in the 6 1/2-furlong Grade 3 Vagrancy, taking command with a furlong to run and staving off the bid of returning rival Big Pond to score by three-quarter lengths in a final time of 1:15.91.

"When it gets right down to it, the fact of the matter is she's 4-for-4 sprinting on the dirt," Serpe said. "Her pedigree really hinted turf to us and her race in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies was an exceptionally good race. So, with the way she's built and her pedigree, we were thinking to go long with her. For as well as things went when she was two, everything seemed to go backwards as a 3-year-old. We're past that now, so we'll hopefully keep moving forward."

Out of the winning Good Journey mare Tanquerray, Leave No Trace, a $40,000 purchase at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern Fall Yearling Sale, is now 11-4-1-1 with $748,250 in earnings.

Hall of Famer Bill Mott will send out the Grade 1-placed Big Pond [post 2, Junior Alvarado, 122 pounds] for the second time in her eight-race career.

A California homebred for George Krikorian, the 4-year-old Mr. Big bay has hit the board in 6-of-8 lifetime efforts including a close second last-out when three-quarter-lengths back of Leave No Trace in the Grade 3 Vagrancy. Prior to the effort, she competed for trainer Tim Yakteen, notably placing second beaten a nose by the well-regarded Daddysruby in the Grade 1 La Brea traveling seven-furlongs in December at Santa Anita Park before a score there one month later versus state-breds in the six-furlong Spring Fever.

Mott and Krikorian teamed up with last year’s Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Just F Y I in addition to multiple Grade 1-winning multimillionaire War Like Goddess. Both the Hall of Fame conditioner and experienced owner/breeder appeared at the Eclipse Award ceremony last year, with Mott honored for the fourth time as Outstanding Trainer and Krikorian accepting the award honoring his homebred Just F Y I.

Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will saddle Shidabhuti [post 8, Dylan Davis, 124 pounds] and Accede [post 3, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 118 pounds] seeking a title defense in the event following Champion Female Sprinter Goodnight Olive taking last year’s edition. Brown has achieved this feat before, winning consecutive runnings with Lewis Bay [2018] and Separationofpowers [2019].

Peter Brant’s Shidabhuti was successful in her return from a nearly nine-month layoff in the seven-furlong Grade 3 Distaff here on April 6 ahead of a strong third in the Grade 2 Ruffian on May 4 at the same site. There, the Practical Joke bay trailed the six-horse field and improved going the one-turn mile, unable to reel in the victorious Soul of an Angel and Randomized, who exited to beat Champion Older Dirt Female Idiomatic in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps presented by Ford on Saturday.

Juddmonte’s Kentucky homebred Accede won her 4-year-old debut sprinting six furlongs on April 24 at Keeneland. Last year, the Into Mischief bay graduated at first asking before a show-effort in the Grade 2 Eight Belles at Churchill. She faced strong company all year, finishing off-the-board in the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont Park, restricted Wilton at Saratoga and the Grade 3 Music City on the Kentucky Downs turf.

KEM Stables’ Hot Fudge [post 7, Eric Cancel, 122 pounds], who is 8-for-15 lifetime, became graded stakes placed last-out when third in the Grade 3 Vagrancy, improving upon a fifth at the level in the Distaff on April 6 here.

Trained by Linda Rice, the Liam’s Map dark bay carried a five-race win streak into her graded bow, including three stakes sprints at the Big A, with the Correction in March, Listed Interborough in January, and Garland of Roses in December.

Michael Dubb’s Apple Picker [post 1, John Velazquez, 124 pounds] has had a successful year in trainer Brittany Russell’s Maryland-base with wins coming in the Grade 3 Barbara Fritchie in February at Laurel Park and the last-out Listed Skipat on May 18 Preakness Day at Pimlico Race Course. Sandwiched between the scores was an off-the-board effort in the Distaff at Aqueduct, and the Connect dark bay will look to take her show on the road once again Saturday. Her last three efforts each received an 80 Beyer Speed Figure.

A talented group is completed by multiple graded stakes-placed Morning Matcha [post 4, Mychel Sanchez, 122 pounds] for trainer Butch Reid, Jr.; graded stakes-placed Beguine [post 10, Trevor McCarthy, 118 pounds] for trainer Ned Allard; and stakes-placed Just Katherine [post 5, Manny Franco, 118 pounds] for conditioner Jose Jimenez.

The Grade 2 Bed o’ Roses is slated as Race 10 on Saturday’s 11-race program. First post is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the Belmont at the Big A spring/summer meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.

NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Belmont at the Big A, and the best way to bet every race of the spring/summer meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.

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Flying Connection looks to fly home in G2 Bed o’ Roses (2024)
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