As his name implies, Red Flag could pose a long-term problem for other California-based classic prospects after the colt dominated the $100,500 Bob Hope Stakes (G3) by 7 1/4 lengths at Del Mar on Sunday.
Sent off at 10-1 for his stakes debut, Red Flag dueled for the lead while four wide down the backside, opened up on the field approaching the turn for home, and strolled home under Victor Espinoza in a time of 1:23.56 for 7 furlongs over a fast track. Red Flag earned a Brisnet Speed rating of 92.
“He broke running and he wanted to go. He seemed to be more professional today than last time,” said Espinoza, who rode Red Flag to a narrow maiden victory going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf in his previous start. “He’s still a baby and he was fooling around before. Be he was good today and did all the right things. He’ll go farther, for sure.”
Owned by Jerry and Tina Moss, and trained by John Shirreffs, Red Flag paid $23.40. Uncle Boogie finished second and was followed by Ambivalent, 3-5 favorite Spielberg, Weston, and Coastal Kid.
Red Flag has now won twice in three starts. He opened his account with a fifth-place finish sprinting on the main track at Del Mar before rebounding in the aforementioned Oct. 10 turf maiden at Santa Anita by a neck.
“I didn’t really expect that kind of performance. I was hoping to get a placing,” said Shirreffs, who trained 2005 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Giacomo and the Hall of Fame mare Zenyatta for Jerry Moss and his former wife, Ann. “He broke his maiden from way off the pace and he’s been doing better and better in the mornings, but he’s not a brilliant work horse. So this was a pleasant surprise.”
Red Flag, a Tamarkuz half-brother to the stakes-winning Surrender Now, was produced by the Stormy Atlantic mare Surrender. Bred in Kentucky by Elaine Macpherson, Red Flag was a $220,000 Keeneland September purchase and descends from Broodmare of the Year Glowing Tribute, the dam of 1993 Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero.