June 19, 2024

Fast as Flight pulls brash upset in Modesty

Fast as Flight winning the Modesty (G3) at Churchill Downs (Photo by Horsephotos.com)
Fast as Flight winning the Modesty (G3) at Churchill Downs (Photo by Horsephotos.com)

Friday’s $386,334 Modesty S. (G3) already shaped up as a contentious renewal, and the yielding turf on a rainy Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs added another layer of complexity to the handicapping puzzle. Longshot Fast as Flight was the one who stepped up in the conditions to earn a new career high, paying $43.90.

The winner of last summer’s Anchorage S. over Ellis Park’s yielding course, Fast as Flight was making her second start for new connections here. The Air Force Blue mare was sold to TEC Racing for $105,000 at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky in February and transferred to trainer Martin Drexler. Fast as Flight then ran evenly when runner-up in the March 30 Sand Springs S. at Gulfstream Park, and more than recouped her purchase price here.

With new rider Jose Ortiz aboard, Fast as Flight worked out an ideal ground-saving trip just behind front-running Heavenly Sunday. That rival tried to repeat her wire job from last year’s Edgewood (G2), also on Oaks Day. After carving out splits of :24.40, :50.01, and 1:14.93, Heavenly Sunday was still in front passing the eighth pole in 1:38.80. But Fast as Flight had just tipped out to launch her rally, and she rolled past the longtime leader to score by a length in 1:50.63 for 1 1/8 miles.

“I had a great trip,” Ortiz recapped. “I followed (Florent) Geroux (on Heavenly Sunday) every step of the way. I knew we weren’t going very fast on the backside, and I was on top of him every step of the way. I have ridden her before and maybe she hasn’t run against these types of horses. As Martin (Drexler) told me, I know she has speed. I was following his instructions and it worked out well.”

Sparkle Blue and Aspen Grove closed from far back for second and third, respectively. Aspen Grove was unlucky, considering that she was clobbered at the start, and came up just a head short of Sparkle Blue for the runner-up spot. Heavenly Sunday was another neck away in fourth.

Papilio lacked daylight en route to her close fifth. Next came Forever After All; 3-1 favorite Surprisingly and 4-1 second choice Mouffy, neither of whom gained traction; Queens Command; pace-prompting Join the Dance; and Caroline Street, who appeared well placed early but weakened in the lane. Be Your Best was scratched.

Fast as Flight’s first graded laurel improved her record to 19-5-6-2, $654,825. In her only graded forays for previous trainer Brian Lynch, the bay was fourth in last year’s Honey Fox (G3) and fifth in the Suwannee River (G3) Dec. 30.  

“My owner (Elliott Logan of TEC Racing) really picked out this race right after we ran in Florida (in the Sand Springs),” Drexler said. “I went along with it as long as she trained well.

“I knew it was a tougher spot than we would like. I thought a couple of stakes up in Woodbine would be a little better of a fit for her, which I am sure we will be in. This was something that we wanted to try, and this is his hometown, and it worked out. It worked out very well.”

It also worked out very well for Fast as Flight’s broodmare value. Bred by Pursuit of Success in Kentucky, the six-year-old is out of the unraced Tiznow mare Tiznow Peace, from a stellar Niarchos family. Her maternal relatives include 2019 Preakness (G1) star War of Will, also a Grade 1 winner on turf; Irish highweight Pathfork, a successful sire in South Africa; and further back, multiple highweight Spinning World, hero of the 1997 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).