Exceptional. Extraordinary. Pick any adjective, and none could sufficiently encapsulate the performance Flightline turned in Saturday in the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar.
Displaying shades of Secretariat-like authority over five hapless rivals, Flightline turned in one of the most visually stunning and emphatic displays in recent American racing history, registering a 19 1/4-length victory in a time of 1:59.28 over a fast track.
If not for being eased down in the final sixteenth, Flightline would have surely shattered the track mark of 1:59.11, set by Candy Ride in the 2003 Pacific Classic.
A head in front passing the finish for the first time, Flightline was content to let Extra Hope take over entering the clubhouse turn. But, after a half-mile or so, Flightline could no longer be contained by jockey Flavien Prat.
Taking the lead under his own power down the backside, Flightline steadily increased his advantage around the far turn and through the stretch. Left in his wake were the Dubai World Cup (G1) winner, Country Grammer, who himself had a seven-length margin on Royal Ship, recent winner of the San Diego H. (G2). Express Train, Extra Hope, and Stilleto Boy ultimately finished, too, but long after Flightline had begun the pull-up process.
The 3-10 favorite in his first race ever beyond a mile, Flightline returned $2.60 to win and earned a free berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). The four-year-old son of Tapit races in the colors of Hronis Racing, who owns the colt in partnership with Siena Farm, breeder Summer Wind Equine, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Woodford Racing. He’s been deftly handled throughout his career by trainer John Sadler.
“Did I think he could do that – win like that? Kinda yeah,” Sadler said. “You don’t want to say it in front of the race, but now that he’s done it….The thing about him is that he’s fast and he can carry it. Some horses are fast, but they can’t go on. This horse can.”
While there is a strong collection of talent awaiting Flightline in the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland, namely fellow older horse Life Is Good and three-year-old standout Epicenter, the dominance he displayed in the Pacific Classic and in four prior victories virtually ensures he’ll be an odds-on favorite.
If he makes it, that is. As brilliant as he’s been, Flightline’s constitution has limited him to just five career outings since April 2021. All have been jaw-dropping their own way, beginning with a 13 1/4-length maiden win at Santa Anita over six furlongs. More than four months later came a 12 3/4-length allowance win at Del Mar, also over six furlongs. His first stakes win, in the seven-furlong Malibu (G1) over seven furlongs by 11 1/2 lengths, came more than three months later.
There was a gap of more than five months between the Malibu until Flightline’s most recent effort, the June 11 Metropolitan H. (G1) at Belmont Park. Shipping east and trying a mile proved no hindrance, though the winning margin was only six lengths. His bankroll now stands at $1,394,000.
Purchased for $1 million at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale, Flightline was produced by Edgewood (G3) winner Feathered, a daughter of Indian Charlie. His respective third and fourth dams were Grade 1 winners Finder’s Fee and Fantastic Find, and the matriarchal line traces to 1966 champion three-year-old filly Lady Pitt.
Exceptional. Extraordinary. More like out of this world.