W.S. Farish’s homebred Royal Flag rallied wide down the lane to capture the Grade 2, $250,000 Beldame Stakes, a nine-furlong test for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, at Belmont Park.
Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Joel Rosario, Royal Flag covered the nine-furlongs over a good and harrowed main track in 1:50.02. It was the second Beldame win for both Brown and Rosario, who won the race previously with Wow Cat (2018) and Forever Unbridled (2016), respectively.
Breaking from the outermost post 8, odds-on favorite Royal Flag sat off the leaders in fifth as the field raced down the backside. Horologist, who won last year’s running of the Beldame, was sent to the lead by jockey Junior Alvarado, setting opening fractions of :23.97 and :48.54 for a half-mile while being chased to her outside by Miss Marissa.
As the field entered the turn, Royal Flag followed the Manny Franco-piloted Zaajel, whom she tracked throughout the backside. Through three-quarters in 1:13.03, Zaajel rallied three-wide on the pacesetting Horologist and that move was followed by a four-wide run from Royal Flag.
Taking the lead at the eighth-pole, Royal Flag, under a confident Rosario, drew away from her competition all while keeping his mare in the middle of the track and under a hand ride to best the pacesetting Horologist by 4 1/4 lengths. Miss Marissa was able to hold third by 2 1/4-lengths over Gold Spirit (CHI).
“She broke really well,” said Rosario, “Sometimes, when there’s no speed, she can be up a little bit. We were just waiting for the time to come out and let her do her thing.”
Rosario said he intentionally kept Royal Flag wide out of the turn.
“I feel like if I get her away from them, she’s more focused at that point,” Rosario said. “So, I stayed out there. If she has another horse there [beside her], she’ll just stay there.”
Dan Stupp, assistant trainer to Brown, said he was happy to see just how much the 5-year-old mare has improved.
“This year she’s obviously taken a big step forward. She’s trained better than ever,” Stupp said. “Everyone has done a great job of developing her and Rosario gets along quite well with her.”
Alvarado said he had no excuses aboard a game Horologist.
“When I turned for home, I asked her and she gave me a good kick,” Alvarado said. “I know my filly likes to fight but the other horse (Royal Flag) was coming way from the outside. I didn’t want to move all the way out there and wanted to keep her in a straight course. We were just second best today.”
The 5-year-old Royal Flag is a daughter of Candy Ride, out of the Mineshaft mare Sea Gull. Earning $137,500 in victory, Royal Flag now owns a 12-6-3-3 ledger and purse earnings of $573,020.
Bred in Kentucky by her owner, Royal Flag returned $3.40 for a $2 win wager.