Tony Flores purchased two black pups when they were three months old to give him something to do when he retired. Little did he know that his $1800 investment would earn him over $120,000 just a few years down the track.
The young pups matured to become Amity Flame and Hurricane Isaac- two talented litter brothers that have been racing impressively around the Victorian city circuits.
“I’ve sort of come in and out of the dogs over a 45 year span and this time I’ve only just come back after about a ten year break. When I was ready to retire I thought I better do something for my retirement so I bought a couple of pups and I only paid $900 each for them when they were about three months old”, Flores recalled.
“They only started racing 10 months ago and they’ve won about $120,000 between them. I’m only a hobby trainer and they are not too many hobbies going around that you can win that sort of money from your backyard. It’s worked out really well”.
Flores’ success with his exciting duo came to a climax on Saturday night when his emerging young stayer Amity Flame took out the Group 3 Topcat Video Cup at The Meadows.
Beginning well from box two, the son of Paddy’s Flame and Amity Rose found the lead in the run to the line on the first occasion. From that point in time he was never behind another runner as he stretched out to score by just over nine and a half lengths in a nippy 42.46s.
“It was pretty exciting, he ran a very fast time as well. In the first race the winner had a ten metre handicap and Amity Flame actually rang two lengths faster than that dog, so I was really happy”.
While he was relatively unfancied by punters ($10.10), Flores was optimistic of his chance in the final after his promising heat performance where he finished one length behind Lucy Wires at big odds.
“When he came second in the heat and was only beaten a length I was shocked because it was such a strong field I thought I couldn’t even beat one home, that’s how strong it was”.
“He didn’t jump too badly and he sat about fifth and ran a really good second in quite a smart time”
“In the final I thought if he jumped alright then he would probably do well. I thought the final was easier than the heat. Most of the speed was out of the final. So, I thought he could sort of hit the front in the final and it worked out the way I thought it was going to”
Amity Flame took his record to eight wins and ten minors after his display on Saturday night. The handy stayer had already put in some eye-catching performances earlier this year when he took out a couple of listed races against some elite company.
“He has already won a couple of good races, he won the Victoria Cup at Cranbourne and that was only about his third start over the distance beating a really good field and he was only 22 months old then. It looks like he can go on, I hope he can go on”
“Amity Flame won the Lizrene at Sandown a few months ago and he went passed Destini Fireball and Proven Impala. When he has got his mind on it he goes passed most good dogs. I think he is a bit underrated but he is only a young stayer- he is only two and a half. Stayers don’t really come into it and reach their peak until they are about three years old or three and a half”.
“That’s the third cup he has actually won. The Victoria Cup was a listed race and the Lizrene was a listed race. In the Victoria Cup he was 25/1 then he won the Lizrene and he was 45/1. On Saturday he was 10/1 but he nearly knocked the heat off at 42/1”.
Flores is now looking to target the Group 1 Bold Trease with his exciting prospect after deciding against a trip to NSW for the Group 3 Sydney Cup. With many of the seasoned stayers now transitioning into retirement, Flores hopes that Amity Flame can step up to the challenge of being a high profile distance dynamo.
“They rang up from Sydney last week because they have got a $25,000 race on there and I said I would see how he goes on Saturday but I’ve changed my mind. It takes more out of me than the dog, I’m 65 years old and it’s very overwhelming, I just got over it today. The adrenaline rush and everything is tiring”.
“The stayers that have dominated the last 18 months or so are just sort of reaching their age so I think there is a new crop of stayers coming up at the moment, hopefully mine is one of them. Lucy Wires looks like she is going to be a top stayer but she had no luck there the other night. Old stayers like Irma Bale, Destini Fireball, Proven Impala and Maddison Dee, they’re around 4 years old”
The main issue will now be the lack of staying races available to keep the Group winner race fit.
“Once they reach a certain level it’s hard to race them. Once they reach grade four or over it’s hard to get a start”
“The only thing that gets frustrating with the stayers is that you have them sitting here for four weeks without getting a start”
While his brother may be stealing the spotlight at the moment, Hurricane Isaac also looks set to enjoy further success on the racetrack in upcoming months. The 36 kilogram heavyweight is no slouch and has already made a group race final during his career.
“His brother is a handy sprint and middle distance dog, he has won 12 races. He has won about $50,000. He was in the Harrison-Dawson final earlier this year. He didn’t do any good in the final- he had a bad box and got knocked around”.
Both dogs look primed to fire for Flores who is happy to enjoy the ride that the talented pair takes him on. In particular, Flores hopes to land a win at the highest level with Amity Flame
“I think they both have a bit of a future as long as they don’t get hurt”
“They have been racing against the top ones since they started racing because I knew they were going to be city class, they showed that from the start. Virtually week after week when you’re racing in the city you are up against the professional trainers but one thing you’ve got to remember is that the dogs don’t know that”
“I’m having a lot of fun at the moment with them and there are some pretty big race coming up at the moment”
“His breeding doesn’t suggest that he is going to stay. But he missed the start every time when he first started by about 4-6 lengths. He won at his maiden at Sale where he missed it by six and won by six lengths but tried to do the same the following week and he really got knocked around. I decided to put his straight over the distance and I think he is a natural. He is always the last dog standing. I just hope that he can keep going and maybe knock up a big race”.