Simster7’s Flagstriker earned second-crop sire U S Navy Flag his first graded stakes win as a sire in Saturday’s one-mile Jellyton Stakes (G3) in New Zealand. The win helps U S Navy Flag as he keeps the heat on Justify as best sire of his crop.
Going into the Jellyton, U S Navy Flag was second to Justify in stakes winners (six to five) and that tally stays the same as Flagstriker had previously won a listed stakes. U S Navy Flag accomplished his feat with an initial crop of 92, though, compared to Justify’s bloated book of 245, giving U S Navy Flag the nod in stakes winners per runner percentage. Flagstriker’s victory gives U S Navy Flag nine total stakes wins, three more than Justify.
Where Justify had a clear edge was in graded stakes winners, as U S Navy Flag was blanked though the 2019 season. Also notable for U S Navy Flag, a notable sprinter on the track, his initial graded stakes win came in a one mile race. None of his other four stakes winners has won at a mile, nor even entered a race carded beyond seven furlongs. The Jellyton was Flagstriker’s first go at a mile and he passed the test impressively, stalking pacesetter Ocasio Cortez before surging through the lane, holding off closing favorite Border Tribe to win by nearly two lengths at the wire while earning a 102 speed figure. Flagstriker is out of the grade 1-winning millionaire Hellstriker, who won graded stakes on both turf and dirt. The breeding is awash in Northern Dancer lines (Danzig, Galileo and Storm Cat from the sire; Nureyev through Pivotal; and Nijinsky II as the fourth sire).
Of U S Navy Flag’s other stakes winners, samanthafarm’s First Navy Jack is bred most similarly to Flagstriker. First Navy Jack doubles up on the Sadler’s Wells influence with Montjeu as the broodmare sire, has Mr. Prospector son Seeking the Gold as the third sire (where Flagstriker had Mr. P’s son Smart Strike there), and has Nijinsky II as fourth sire–just like Flagstriker. First Navy Jack has yet to run beyond 6 1/2-furlongs, and not even that far since July when winning a listed stakes. He finished fifth in the Miller Reef Stakes (G2) in his lone graded stakes attempt and has most recently earned speed figures in the 80s while finishing fourth and third in a pair of allowance races. His dam won as far as 1 3/16-miles and earned her career best speed figure in a loss at that distance. Perhaps a switch up to a mile would jump start the colt or at least provide some perspective.
Bathred’s Navy Moncat gets stamina from the dam side of his pedigree courtesy of Monsun (and also doubles up on the Storm Cat influence). He has yet to race beyond 5 1/2-furlongs, with his lone stakes win coming at that distance. Earlier this month, he earned an 89 speed figure when second in the Tj Jesse Turf Sprint in Denmark. This one also might benefit from longer races.
Fairhaven7’s Black Flag Death and rockriver’s My Lexus bred their stakes-winning U S Navy Flag runners utilizing a cross to the Mr. Prospector line for the dam sire. Fairhaven7’s filly is out the fabulous turf sprinting mare Network News, an EOY award winner and a grade 1 winner and producer. She never entered a race as long as a mile so it’s understandable Black Flag Death has stayed in races seven furlongs and shorter. A three-time stakes winner, Black Flag Death’s lone graded attempt came at seven furlongs in The Rockefeller Stakes (G2) in which she finished fifth, closing stoutly to come home just a length behind the winner.
My Lexus is also out of a grade 1-winning dam, Primordial Soup, who did her best racing from 6 1/2-furlongs to 1 1/16-miles. Primordial Soup is by Unbridled’s Song and out of an A.P. Indy mare, which may provide enough stamina to get My Lexus quality wins over two turns. Thus far, the roan colt has yet to race a distance farther than six furlongs. He won his second stakes race in a row last out in the five-furlong Hero’s Demise Turf Dash, garnering a 93 speed figure.
Aside from his stakes winners, U S Navy Flag also has the stakes-placed Mcconkey. Out of a grade 2-winning dam by Paco Boy (and a second-dam by Danehill Dancer (all three tracing back to Danzig), trotter1’s Mcconkey has six career races to date all in a narrow range of seven or 7 1/2-furlongs. He’s finished fifth in a pair of grade 2 stakes races and most recently was second in the Saint Night Turf Sprint in his sophomore debut after winning a n2l allowance race in November. Both those races were at 7 1/2-furlongs and in both he earned speed figures over 90. It’s easy to envision this one having success at a mile or more.
A few other U S Navy Flag runners look promising, and possibly for races longer than sprints. Somethingroyal’s U S Honor Flag (Honor Code mare) just missed winning at 1 1/16-miles and has won four of five career races. James34’s U S War Cry (Lord at War mare) has three wins at a mile, all in allowance company. His top speed figure is 86 but the way he has been winning suggests he has been leaving reserves in the tank. Finally, hawkz3’s Thanx US Navy (Smart Strike mare) has a serious case of seconditis to resolve, and a dose of racing in intermediate routes might just be the medicine he needs.
Though an excellent sprinter, U S Navy Flag (War Front–Misty for Me, by Galileo) was also group 1-placed at a mile. (He was caught in the final 100 yards after leading all the way in the Irish 2,000 Guineas.) His dam won the Irish 1,000 Guineas and a group 1 race at 10 furlongs and produced Roly Poly, a full sister to U S Navy Flag and a multiple group 1-winning miler. While U S Navy Flag will certainly be a speed influence overall, a mix with more stoutly bred mares may result in an ability to handle the shorter routes.