In one of the most brilliant performances in the history of Del Mar racetrack, Flightline obliterated his competition in the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) on Saturday, Sept. 3, scoring by 19 ¼ lengths to remain undefeated in his five career starts. The record margin of victory eclipsed the 12 ½-length victory by Accelerate in the 2018 Pacific Classic. The final time of 1:59.28 encroached on Candy Ride’s record of 1:59.11 established in 2003.
Ridden by regular pilot Flavien Prat, Flightline rated off the early pace set by Extra Hope. Flightline took command with ease midway down the backstretch of the 1 ¼-mile journey and then simply opened up around the far turn, leaving his five rivals far behind. He coasted to the wire the easiest of winners, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 126, the second-highest figure since the Beyer numbers were made public in 1991. Only Ghostzapper’s 128 in 2004 is higher. The historical win also earned Flightline a berth in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Keeneland in November.
“I let him stay out in the middle of the track through the stretch the first time because I wanted to have him relaxed and comfortable,” said Prat. “I didn’t want to get him on the rail and be bottled. When we went into the final turn, he was traveling so well I asked him to pick it up a little bit. As soon as I looked back and saw how far in front he was, I wrapped up on him. Obviously, this is the best horse I ever rode.”
The 4-year-old son of Tapit is owned by Hronis Racing, Summer Wind Equine, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Woodford Racing, and is trained by John Sadler. The Pacific Classic win marked Flightline’s fifth success in as many starts, and the $600,000 winner’s share of the purse increased his bankroll to $1,394,800. He was purchased for $1 million at Keeneland September as a yearling, and was bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Equine.
“I thought (we had it) fairly early on,” said Sadler. “This horse has a high cruising speed. Once he was flowing, I knew we were in good shape. We had a lot of confidence going in. The distance was the question today and he answered the question. 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. He’s an exceptional horse.”
Flightline captured the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park in his previous outing, and he won the Malibu Stakes (G1) prior to that. All told, Flightline, a son of Tapit out of the Indian Charlie mare Feathered, is perfect in five career starts and he owns three Grade 1 triumphs. He has won his races by a combined margin of 62 ¾ lengths