|3/27||FG||Louisiana Derby GII||Chart||1 1/8 miles||9th||83|
|5/08||BEL||The Dwyer GII||Chart||1 1/8 miles||1st||99|
Strengths: His first two victories came at the expense of First Dude, at Churchill Downs as a 2-year-old and at Gulfstream Park first out this year. Of course, those races took on added significance in the wake of First Dude's huge race in the Preakness. After failing to fire in the Louisiana Derby, Fly Down rebounded with a breakthrough effort to win the Dwyer, drawing away from odds-on Drosselmeyer through a solid last three-eighths that left the impression he can handle more ground. He appears to love this track - as did his sire and broodmare sire ? and most of his rivals have never run over "Big Sandy." If he merely runs back to his last race, that gives him a big chance. If he improves - a perfectly plausible scenario for a son of Mineshaft making just his sixth start - the others may be running for second money.
Weaknesses: Though fears are somewhat alleviated thanks to a 2-0 record against First Dude, this will be his first foray into Grade 1 company, so he is light on seasoning compared to four rivals who contested one of the Triple Crown's first two legs. Along the same lines, he picks up 10 pounds, and the Derby-Preakness runners have already shouldered 126.
Strategy: In all three of his wins, Fly Down has shown the ability to gain ground quickly on the far turn, where most Belmont Stakes are lost and won. This ability to accelerate to the prestretch call may enable him to get the jump on stablemate Ice Box, the morning-line favorite.
Value: He is listed as the third choice at 9-2 and would be an exceptional overlay if he goes off at that price, considering he has already beaten the second choice twice. More realistically, expect him to go off somewhere in the neighborhood of 3-1.
Sire: Mineshaft, a son of Belmont Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic winner A.P. Indy, descends from a powerful female family. He began his career in Europe but found his best stride once he returned to the United States for a main-track campaign. Mineshaft won Horse of the Year honors as a 4-year-old in 2003, taking four Grade 1 races that season between 1 1/16 miles and 1 1/4 miles. He earned Beyer Speed Figures of 115 and up in his last seven lifetime starts. Mineshaft's best progeny seem to do best with added maturity and distance. All four of his Grade 2 winners ? Discreetly Mine, Casino Drive, Cool Coal Man, Fly Down ? enjoyed their greatest successes going long as 3-year-olds.
Dam: Fly Down is a half-sister to Seafree, winner of the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes at nine furlongs on dirt at Santa Anita. Their dam, Queen Randi, was unplaced in three lifetime starts (all in sprints). This is the female family of Grade 3 winner Rich Sun.
Outlook: A two-time winner at nine furlongs, Fly Down boasts stamina influences on both sides of his pedigree. He should do well at this elongated distance.