Unbeaten from four starts, top older horse Flightline will make an anticipated two-turn debut against five challengers in Saturday’s $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar. The John Sadler-trained four-year-old colt will break from post 5 with regular rider Flavien Prat.
The prohibitive early favorite for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), Flightline can earn an expenses-paid berth in the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic, a “Win & You’re In” race. The bay son of Tapit exits a six-length win in the prestigious Metropolitan H. (G1) on the June 11 Belmont S. undercard, and Flightline should be forwardly placed from the start, winning every start on or up close to the pace.
His four wins have come by a combined 43 lengths.
Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Country Grammer comes next on the morning line at 4-1. Trained by Bob Baffert, who shares the Pacific Classic record of six wins with the legendary Bobby Frankel, Country Grammer exits a solid tune-up, a runner-up effort in the July 30 San Diego (G2) at 1 1/16 miles. Country Grammer prefers more ground, recording both Grade 1 wins at 1 1/4 miles, and John Velazquez retains the assignment on the five-year-old son of Tonalist.
Multiple Grade 2 winner Royal Ship, a 2 1/4-length scorer in the San Diego, is the early 8-1 third choice. Mike Smith, who has ridden the Brazilian Group 1 victor in all 11 U.S. starts, will be up on the six-year-old gelding for Richard Mandella.
A four-time Pacific Classic winner, Mandella will also send out Grade 3 winner Extra Hope, a 30-1 outsider following a second in the July 24 Cougar II (G3).
Santa Anita H. (G1) winner Express Train, freshened since a runner-up in the April 30 Californian (G2), is listed at 12-1 with Victor Espinoza. Californian victor Stilleto Boy, third most recently in the San Diego and 20-1 on the morning line, completes the field.