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Flyhawk El Durado may be small in stature, but he has a big heart
Thursday, February 06, 2014 - by Kimberly French, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

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Kimberly French
Louisville, KY --- He might not possess blistering speed, bulging muscles or a beefy frame, but Flyhawk El Durado doesn’t know any better and certainly did not allow his lack of physical assets to impede him from reigning victorious in last year’s $225,000 New York Sire Stakes final for 2-year-old colt and gelding trotters.

“He’s a nice little fella,” said conditioner Mark Ford. “He’s really small, but he’s very correct and honestly does not do one thing wrong.”

A son of Conway Hall and the El Paso Kash mare El Paso Gal, the colt was bred by Kathleen and Andrea Pratt of New Woodstock, N.Y. He is the second foal from his dam, who earned $194,738 while racing her entire career in New York. In fact, she was second in the 2004 New York Sire Stakes final as a 3-year-old.

Mike Lizzi photo
Flyhawk El Durado won six times as a freshman and banked $301,076.

Flyhawk El Durado was purchased the day he turned two by Jimmy Whittemore. He was second in his career debut on June 30 in a $37,862 New York Sire Stakes contest at Buffalo Raceway with Whittemore in the bike and as the trainer of record.

He then broke his maiden on July 11 at Monticello Raceway in a $44,350 New York Sire Stakes race and was sold to Martin Scharf on July 14.

“I know Jimmy really well and this horse either didn’t make his reserve in the Morrisville Sale or was just a very cheap yearling, probably because of his size,” Ford said. “But Jimmy had him going and we decided to take him.”

His first start for his new connections was another win in a $23,418 division of the Tompkins-Geers at Tioga Downs on July 18, where he established his lifetime mark of 1:57.3f.

On the next occasion Flyhawk El Durado competed, however, he struggled home ninth in a $55,181 New York Sire Stakes event at Tioga Downs on July 26. It was the only time he has finished worse than third in his nine race career and there was an excuse.

“We made an equipment change on him that I wasn’t really sure I wanted to make,” Ford said. “He tripped and nearly fell, so it wasn’t the best of trips.”

The colt rebounded with a third place finish in a $53,562 New York Sire Stakes contest at Vernon Downs on August 8 and then reeled off four consecutive victories, with one being a dead heat on Sept. 20 at Yonkers Raceway, all within the Empire State in Sire Stakes company.

He closed out the season with his triumph in the Sire Stakes final on Sept. 28. In that race the colt defeated Credit Fashion, the horse he had dead-heated with the prior week and who went off as the 1-2 favorite, by a neck.

He completed the year with a record of 9-6-1-1 and $301,076 in the bank.

“We didn’t do anything else for him because he wasn’t paid into anything,” Ford said. “I would have raced him in the Breeders Crown but he would have had to have been supplemented and it was pretty expensive so we just shut him down for the year.”

For his 3-year-old season, Flyhawk El Durado will be kept primarily in New York company and will be spotted accordingly should any other stakes opportunities arise where Ford thinks he will fit.

“I wish there was more I could say about him,” he said. “He’s just so little and I don’t think he’s a Hambletonian horse, but he so wants to be that kind. That’s something you just can’t teach and he always tries so hard. I just think physically he’s not very stout.

I will put him in other races if I think he belongs but at least we have a very nice Sire Stakes horse. He’s also free and clear for the investment we put in him. He’s made it all back twice over and you can’t ask for anything more.”

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