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Chef Bobby Flay’s buy-in leaves a sweet aftertaste

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay, right, helps lead Creator

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay, right, helps lead Creator and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. into the winner's circle after edging Destin by a nose to take the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 11, 2016. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

When most people invite guests, they make a nice dinner and maybe open up a good bottle of wine. When celebrity chef Bobby Flay invites guests, he buys a horse.

It’s no secret that Flay has long mastered the hospitality business — his cooking shows and cookbooks are responsible for a hefty portion of his reported $20-million fortune, after all. So was it really any surprise that hospitality spurred Flay to make one very pivotal investment earlier this week?

“I had a horse named America, a filly, who was going to run” one of the races at Belmont, Flay said Saturday evening. “But I retired her last month, so I really had nothing to run. I wanted to make sure my guests had a very enjoyable experience, so I wanted to purchase a horse to run.”

Suffice to say, Flay’s version of hospitality is far more lavish than that of your everyday host, but give him this — Creator’s new minority owner sure accomplished what he set out to do.

Saturday, Creator, out of Kentucky’s WinStar Farm LLC, bested a field of 13 to win the Belmont Stakes in a cool 2:28.51, a mere nose faster than Destin. In the process, the 3-year-old added another accolade to Flay’s already accomplished ledger: One of Flay’s horses won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in 2010, and the Hell’s Kitchen native is both a board member with the New York Racing Association and the Breeders’ Cup.

Flay said he didn’t originally have any designs on Creator, a horse he said he bet on in the Kentucky Derby. (Flay lost miserably on that bet; Creator finished 13th.)

“There were a couple of other horses that we were looking at,” he said. “And then Mr. Walden [WinStar president Elliott Walden] told me that we could get involved in Creator. It’s not really a thing I usually do, because I usually buy fillies, but having a chance to be involved with a horse like that, with a farm like that and the people that are involved in it, just, it was a no-brainer for me.”

He said he would be interested in mating some of his fillies with Creator’s sire, Tapit, and that prospect also made the investment tantalizing.

“Bobby is one of the most passionate owners and advocates we have in the industry,” Walden said in a statement after the sale became official Wednesday. “He’s a tremendous spokesperson for horse racing, and his energy and dedication are things this industry needs more of. We are excited to have him on our team, particularly with a horse like Creator that has the potential to compete in our sport’s most mainstream events.”

Flay isn’t too shabby of a host, either. He invited 15 to 20 people, he said, like he does every year. This time, they got an especially exciting show. That said, no one came close to rivaling his excitement.

“I shouldn’t even be sitting here,” he said, still soaked from the downpour that came after his horse crossed the finish line. “The only thing I did was, I certainly was cheering the loudest of anyone in the entire racetrack.”

New York Sports