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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Flat Out A Test of Dickey's Patience


Trainer Scooter Dickey, 70, thought he had hit the top of the racing game before the 1984 Preakness. But Flat Out has changed his mind, and he knows patience pays.
“I thought I had reached the pinnacle in 1984 in the Preakness (with Wind Flyer). Gate Dancer beat me as far as he did in a maiden race, six lengths,” Dickey said today.
Owned by Art Preston's Preston Stables, Breeders' Cup Classic contender Flat Out came to Dickey as a juvenile in the summer of 2008 and made his debut at Churchill Downs that November, running sixth in a 6 1/2-furlong race. “We took three good babies to Saratoga that summer, but he did not get to run,” Dickey said. “The first time he ran, he ran green, but he closed ground, and the next time out he won at the Fair Grounds.”
A victory in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park in his 3-year-old debut put Flat Out on the Kentucky Derby trail, and respectable showings in the Grade III Southwest Stakes and then Grade II Arkansas Derby kept him there until a shoulder injury less than two weeks before the Run for the Roses ended that dream.
The shoulder injury and battles with persistent quarter cracks kept Flat Out away from the races for 20 months.
Did Dickey ever think of throwing in the towel?
“Only one time,” the native of Anthony, Kan., said. “We had brought him back after the shoulder had healed and the quarter cracks had healed. We were two or three works away (from a start), and that old quarter crack behind the wall blew out and they had to cut his foot away like they did with Big Brown, and we had to give it time to grow back. That was the only time.”
After a victory in his return in December in New Orleans, Flat Out battled quarter cracks again before starting on a run that has propelled him to the upper echelon of the handicap ranks in North America and into a leading role for the Grade I, $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“He just takes everything in stride,” Dickey said of Flat Out, who worked a bullet five furlongs in :59.80 last Saturday under Greta Kuntzweiler. “He just wants to go out there and work.”
There is a chance that Flat Out’s work may not be done after the Nov. 5 Classic.
“We haven’t really talked about it,” Dickey said of retiring Flat Out after the Classic. “But a while back I was talking with Art and said ‘Remember when we worked him on the turf in case we didn’t go in the Stephen Foster but the Firecracker instead and he worked really good?’ He said we ought to try him on the turf some time and point to the Arlington Million next year. I told him, ‘I like the way you think.’ ”

--Edited Churchill Downs release

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