The unbeaten Flightline cemented his superhorse status in spectacular fashion by pulling away in the course for a stunning 8 1/4 triumph in Saturday’s $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.
French jockey Flavien Prat rode the heavily favored four-year-old stallion to victory in the 1 1/4 mile showdown that capped a two-day, 14-race card worth more than $30 million at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky.
“This is one of the greatest horses of all time. I think history will tell,” said flightline trainer John Sadler.
Flightline outperformed his last competitor at the end of the last straight and stormed to an impressive victory.
“He showed so much talent,” said Prat. “We expected a great run from him. I thought it was one of the deepest fields, but he was a total pro.
“He braked really well. I was running well and he relaxed really well on the back. I felt in control the whole race.”
The 2-5 favourite, Prats fourth career Breeders’ Cup winner, improved to 5-0 with Olympiad a distant second 25-1 and Taiba (8-1) third.
“This is a very special animal for our sport,” said Flightline co-owner Kosta Hironis. “We need a hero. We need a champion. We need an unbeaten horse and someone who can really go out and do their thing.
“And this is Flightline.”
When asked about the horse’s future, any previous plan to retire him to stud, or perhaps possible future races after the Classic romp, Hironis said no decision had been made yet.
“The partnership group will meet over the next few days and consider how we are moving forward,” he said.
Hironis was impressed by how Flightline, who missed out on the US Triple Crown competition as a three-year-old due to injuries interrupting his early career, answered the Classic challenge.
“He rises to any challenge and keeps proving himself,” said Hironis. “And today against the very best competition at a new circuit… he just seemed to have taken another step forward and proved himself to be the best.”
The Tapit son inspired Sadler with his dominant performance.
“Really a great win,” Sadler said. “He ran wonderfully, just as we had imagined. It’s wonderful when everything works out.”
Classic competitor Epicenter was taken off the track by ambulance and later diagnosed with a “repairable” fracture to his right front leg. The horse was scheduled for surgery on Sunday.
– Godolphin’s Big Day –
Rebel’s Romance won the $4 million turf by 2 1/4 lengths and covered the 1 1/2 miles in a course record of 2:26.25 to give Godolphin Stables a record fourth win of the event, after Mile, Dirt Mile and Juvenile Turf Sprint.
Another horse trained by Britain’s Charlie Appleby, Godolphin’s Modern Games. took command in a seven wide mid stretch move to win the $2 million mile by 3/4 of a length.
The Todd Pletcher-trained Malathaat, ridden by John Velazquez, won a three-way photo finish in the final step to defeat 24-1 Longshot Blue Stripe at the $2M Distaff, with third-place Clairiere taking another nose lay back.
Ireland coach Aidan O’Brien clinched his 16th career Breeders’ Cup win and first place finish in the $2 million Filly & Mare Turf when he defeated In Italian by one length on Tuesday.
Elite Power passed favorite Jackie’s Warrior on the sixteenth pole and claimed a 1.4-long triumph in the $2 million sprint, the third win of the event for jockey Irad Ortiz in 1:09.11 for six furlongs.
Godolphin’s home bred Cody’s Wish knocked out Cyberknife by a head and won the $1 million dirt mile in 1:35.33.
Caravel went forward at the start and led all the way to win the $1M Turf Sprint by a half length ahead of Emaraaty Ana and completed 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:01.79 for an upset win with a 42-1 longshot.
Favored Goodnight Olive won the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint by 2 1/2 lengths, covering seven stages in 1:21.61.