(Flightline winning the G1 TVG Pacific Classic / Benoit Photo & Courtesy of Del Mar Turf Club)
(Flightline’s trainer John Sadler / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
Here’s a few thoughts and observations about the race that have come, gone and those that will be arriving way too soon:
His near 20-length win in the G1 TVG Pacific Classic was truly one for the ages. And, this horse seemingly gets better and better. And…of course…better.
In a world where the word “great” seems commonplace, this one is the exception.
In a world where we utter the word “wow” way too often and don’t hold it in abeyance until the most appropriate time, this one truly has earned the use.
In a world where we want to bestow a mantel of fame far to soon and far to easily, this one certainly appears to be “Hall” worthy.
And, the best news?
We still don’t know the answer to the essential question that we seem to be asking this day, on the hangover of such a super performance on Saturday.
Have we seen his best yet?
I don’t think so, and, perhaps, the only way we will truly know this horse’s greatness will be the first time that he is truly challenged. That challenge did not come on Saturday. That threat did not come from a group of wannabes that were found to be seriously wanting in the Pacific Classic. That test did not come from a group of horses that are simply not Grade 1 caliber — including Country Grammar, who the trainer admitted going in that he was running to be 2nd.
That ultimate test may come — hopefully — in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, which, undoubtedly, is shaping up as one of the greatest races in the history of the sport, potentially and still to be determined. But, at the least, the potential is there.
After all, for now, it appears that we may have a showdown at Keeneland that could and should include the likes of Life Is Good, Olympiad, Epicenter, Cyberknife, Zandon, Rich Strike, Hot Rod Charlie and probably more.
That will be a race worth watching.
That will be a test worth remembering.
And, that will be when Flightline’s trainer, John Sadler, undoubtedly one of the best in the sport, asks and gets the most from this super superstar.
That’s just what Sadler does. Routinely.
And, that’s just what super horses do, too. Amazingly.
Just when you may have thought that the grand ole’ man — who is now 22 years of age — was beginning to slow down, and was being passed by the likes of Into Mischief, Gun Runner and a roster of other younger sires as the tops of the breeding game, Tapit has now popped another racing miracle in Flightline.
While it may be a bit surprising to some. Just consider the big gray’s record in the breeding shed.
The sport’s #1 active sire by lifetime G1 winners and Stakes winners;
The game’s top sire by earnings all-time;
The sire of 30 Grade 1 winners and 32 yearlings to bring $1 million or more at public auction;
And, the stallion who has produced runners who have earned nearly $200 million on the racetrack.
He was a record-breaking champion sire in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
He has already sired a champion 2YO colt; a champion 2YO filly; a champion 3YO filly and 3 Belmont Stakes winners.
Now, he is the sire of Flightline.
His greatest runner may be right in front of us right now. Amazing.
The latest racing superstar just underlines what has been a truly electrifying stallion career for a stud who has truly changed the game and the breed for generations to come.
Flightline underscores the fact that Tapit has changed this industry forever. For. Ever. Tapit is just proving again how remarkable a sire he truly has been, and, on occasion now, still is.
With all due credit to the grate Mr. Prospector and Northern Dancer. With all acclaim given to the fantastic Storm Cat and the likes of international stars Sadler’s Wells and Galileo. With knowledge that others will undoubtedly come along in the future.
Still, with no doubt, Tapit now sits as the best stallion of all time.
(KY Downs / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
While the downpours rained on everyone’s post parades on Saturday and forced the cancellation of races on both that day and all day on Sunday, it is hard to dampen the spirit of anyone that attends the little, all-grass course in West Kentucky.
The purses are the best in the world. Period. An allowance race for horses that have only broken their maiden now extend to over $180,000 per event. That is more than most Stakes races carded around the country.
The fields, normally, extend to 16 entries. Per race.
The caliber of horses running are Stakes worthy, all the way down to the maidens and some claimers.
And, the wagering challenges are some of the best that any sport has to offer — at any time.
The crowds spill out and over the picnic tables all the way to the outer rail, cramming the lawn to just watch a horse race.
The tailgating is more college football-like than Thoroughbred.
The fun and laughter are as contagious as, I dare write, Covid, itself.
If you ever get the chance, go to Kentucky Downs. It is the reason you first fell in love with horse racing. It will give you many reasons to do so again.
(Jockey Flavien Prat / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
You know what I like most about Prat’s ride on Flightline in the G1 Pacific Classic?
He just got out of the horse’s way and let him do his thing. By doing nothing, more or less, Prat gave the horse the right to do more. And, that is exactly what the horse did.
Great riding job. Great.
(Trainer Shug McGaughey / Photo by Gene McLean)
Battle of Normandy:
The 2YO son of City Light ran 2nd in the With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga this week over a turf track that had been saturated with rain over the past week or so. But don’t mistake. Not for a second. This horse was the best in the race. By more than a little bit, too.
Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey has a really good one in his hands right now, and, from what I know about “Shuggums,” he will get the most out of him just when he needs it the most. From the first day I met Shug, when he was a public trainer for the likes of John Ed Anthony and others, to today, the man has stayed the same. Humble. Honest. Hardworking. And, from the first day I met him, I have known one other thing about him, too. The man can train a racehorse. To be his best.
If you are looking for a future star in the game?
This one has the chance to be just that.
Thanks in no small part to the man who is training the colt.
(Jockey Tyler Gaffalione / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
Best rider in Kentucky. Has been for awhile now, to be sure. Doesn’t look like he will let up anytime soon, either.
The hard-working and honest jockey agent, who did so much for the career of Jose Ortiz before he was unceremoniously dumped by the rider just a few weeks ago, is well on his way to making his new partner, Kendrick Carmouche, a top rider and popular name in horse backing now.
Since Aug. 3, Carmouche has 7 wins and is the regular rider on Battle of Normandy. This duo may be a tough combo leading up to this year’s Breeders’ Cup, and it just may lead to some more serious mounts in the future, too.
Keep an eye out here.
Could be a change in status for both.
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