Flightline lives up to the hype with a big win at the Pacific Classic

del mar, california

can flight line Get a mile and a quarter? can he

Can he get 2 turns? By the time he joined his second stage, the crowd was roaring as if to welcome the champion.

Flightline didn’t just play its part on Saturday afternoon.He lived it on Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic at Delmar.

He destroyed a field containing two other grade 1 winners and won by 19 1/4 lengths to achieve a 5–5 record.

Don’t just win. In an 88 degree afternoon, he scorched five opponents. They could have run the next race.

“It’s a thrill,” said winning trainer John Sadler. “Having a horse like this has been a lifelong dream of mine, so I’m really grateful.”

This should have been the toughest challenge for the four-year-old Tapit Colt, owned by Hronis Racing, Siena Farm, Summer Wind Equine, West Point Thoroughbreds and Woodford Racing. Instead, Flightline (3-10) delivered as his fifth odds-on favorite and over the 1 1/4 mile he completed in 1:59.28, just 0.17 seconds behind the track, in 2003. Bet the record set by Candy Ride.

“It’s the best day I’ve had here,” said Joe Harper, CEO of Del Mar, who has worked in trucks for 45 years. “Ever since seeing this horse race for the second time last year, everyone’s mouths have been left open.”

Country Grammer (7-2), the second choice to enter the race with a profit of $10,897,320, finished second in 2:02.73. This was 2.24 seconds faster than his winning time at the 1 1/4 mile Dubai World Cup (G1) held in March, but not even in the same area code on Saturday. was.

“I think he thinks he won,” said country grammar trainer Bob Baffert. “He had a very game race….I’ve seen a lot of ‘wows’ here and he’s one of them. (Flight Line) was spectacular. He was training like that. I had to stand up and cheer and clap for him. ”

Jockey Flavien Pratt broke from post 5 to advance the flight line early. Starting on the rails and eventually finishing his 5th, Extra Hope (49-1) faced off early with Flightline passing his first quarter mile in 23.42 seconds. Extra Hope kept the pace and held the lead with his half mile of 46.06 seconds. The flight line then moved forward and he opened up a one-length lead in his first six furlongs in 1:09.97.

Then the opening became a fissure. Extra Hope faded and Flightline escaped alone. He was ten lengths ahead in 1:59.28 miles. By the time he crossed the finish line, 12,077 tanned fans roared and screamed as he and Pratt made their way back to the winner’s circle.

Country Glamor finished two lengths ahead of third-placed Royalship (10-1), Extrahope’s stablemate who was headstrong and on toe in the paddock before the race.

“When you get a horse like the one we have, you have to try it,” said Royalship and Extra Hope trainer Richard Mandela. We came in 1st and 5th.”

Express Train (12-1), winners of this year’s Santa Anita Handicap (G1), finished fourth, followed by Extra Hope and finally Stiletto Boy (33-1). The 11 race card earned an all-source handle of $27,825,223.73, her sixth-highest day in Del Mar history.

If there’s one picture of post-race bliss, it’s Sadler. The win was the biggest difference in his Flightline career, but he was fourth in double-digit lengths. So Sadler said he wasn’t surprised.

“Just watch him run,” he said. “Sometimes people say, can he go? I mean, come on. He’s never been challenged.”

When Flightline extended a huge lead, the crowd cheered, and it was a question of whether Pratt would stay in the irons, Sadler admitted he was barely in his stride into the winner’s circle.

“I felt good,” he said. “I said watch him to the end? Or do you go down the stairs? I said watch him finish…” Remember, this is his fifth race That’s what makes it so special.”

For a horse who had a late start in his career after an accidental injury to his hip at the age of 2 and missed a start this year due to sore hocks, Flightline may be the least experienced horse. . Breeders’ Cup Classic. With his two days of current pari-mutuel futures bets remaining, he has shortened to his 9-5 by 10 p.m. EDT on Saturday.

Not for nothing, Saturday’s race won the Breeders’ Cup Classic qualification. Had Flightline lost (which seems silly now), he would have attended Awesome Again (G1) in Santa Anita on October 1 and Keeneland on November 2. I could have had to compete in the $6 million 1 1/4 mile race at Five.

There are currently no such ports of call.

“The plan now is the Breeders’ Cup,” Sadler said. “He won’t run before the Breeders’ Cup. He will run in Kentucky.”

There he will face his toughest test yet. Again, it was the same thing that was said earlier this weekend. That was before he proved he could do his 1 1/4 mile. But that was after Sadler thought he could.

“We have always said that our mantra is with John Sadler, whom we trust,” said principal owner Costa Fronis. “Today you saw all the effort he and his team put in. No, but John knew what to do with this horse.”

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