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Flat Out notches first major win

JOCKEY CLUB GOLD CUP | PURSE: $750,000 | GRADE 1 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | 1 1/4 MILES

After recording runner-up finishes to Havre de Grace in the Woodward Stakes and Tizway in the Whitney Handicap, Flat Out notched his first signature victory of 2011 in Saturday's Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, winning comfortably by a couple of lengths on the muddy track at Belmont Park. Winner of the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park in early July, the five-year-old horse rated as a fringe candidate for Horse of the Year honors entering the 1 1/4-mile Gold Cup, but the Preston Stables color bearer has now positioned himself to win the title.

The $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on November 5 will settle the matter.

Alex Solis has the mount on the Charles "Scooter" Dickey-trained winner.

"Fantastic. Beyond my expectations," Dickey said of the win. "I don't think distance is a problem."

The Breeders' Cup Classic will be held at the same 1 1/4-mile distance of the Gold Cup and Flat Out is now proven at the trip,

Stay Thirsty, winner of the Grade 1 Travers and Grade 2 Jim Dandy in his two previous starts, lost a little luster with his third-place effort on Saturday, but the three-year-old colt will have the opportunity for redemption in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Flat Out broke well and settled into a stalking position during the early stages, racing within striking range of pacesetter Rodman, who established moderate opening splits in :24 and :48 2/5. Flat Out began to advance entering the far turn, in position to strike after three-quarters of a mile in 1:12 3/5, and went after Rodman approaching the top of the stretch.

With Solis urging him on, Flat Out struck the front in upper stretch, passing the quarter-pole with a short lead in 1:12 3/5. He was in complete control in the final furlongs, stopping the teletimer in 2:03.

Off as the 7-5 second choice with entry-mate Birdrun, Flat Out paid $5.80, $2.40 and $2.10 to his supporters. Drosselmeyer, the 2010 Belmont Stakes winner, offered a belated rally for second while never threatening the winner. Stay Thirsty edged out Rodman for third.