Flightline and jockey Flavien Prat win the Grade I, $300,000 Malibu Stakes, Sunday, December 26, 2021 at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia CA.
© BENOIT PHOTO

From the Santa Anita Media Team:

FLIGHTLINE REMAINS PERFECT AS HE REGISTERS 118 BEYER IN RUNHAPPY MALIBU

OK, so he wasn’t beating Knicks Go, Essential Quality or Medina Spirit, but in racing right now, it seems there’s Flightline and then there’s everybody else.

The million-dollar son of Tapit exceeded all the pre-race hyperbole, displaying beyond a doubt he was more than the flavor of the month with a memorable victory in the Grade I Runhappy Malibu Stakes, opening day headliner at Santa Anita on Sunday.

Despite a slightly slow start and bumping with second choice Dr. Schivel in the seven-furlong race, Flightline never took a deep breath, winning by 11 ½ lengths, widening as he crossed the wire, getting seven furlongs in 1:21.37.

Coupled with his first two victories by a combined margin of 26 lengths, the three-year-old bay colt has won his three starts by a combined 37 ½ lengths, a tad over 12 lengths per race.

“He came out of the race good,” said John Sadler Monday morning. Sadler conditions Flightline for Hronis Racing LLC, Siena Farm LLC, Summer Wind Equine LLC, West Point Thoroughbreds and Woodford Racing LLC.

“We’re not looking at anything yet,” Sadler added, when asked about Flightline’s next possible race. “We don’t have any plans yet. It’s too early for that,” although in a post-race TV interview he did mention the Saudi Cup and the Met Mile.

“The bigger picture point I was trying to make is that he could run in any race, but we haven’t honed in on anything, obviously,” Sadler said.

“The horse is on a different level. All has to go right, but we might be looking at a historic-type horse before it’s all over.

“We celebrated Christmas a day late.”

Indeed, and the celebration was further validated this morning when it became known that the freakishly good colt by Tapit had earned an astronomical 118 Beyer Speed Figure–best in America for 2021.

“It’s the top Beyer of the year, surpassing the 114 posted by Flightline (Sept. 5) and Baby Yoda (Sept. 4) in separate races in September,” said Santa Anita Morning Line Maker Jon White.  “Of course, Baby Yoda finished a distant second to Flightline yesterday.”

And so now, it is with great anticipation that horseplayers, not to mention racing secretaries everywhere, await Flightline’s next assignment.

 

McCARTHY EYES NEW YEAR AFTER BANNER 2021

Michael McCarthy capped a signature year Sunday, running one-two in the American Oaks with two fillies that had never raced on dirt in their combined careers of 12 races, Queen Goddess and Single Soul.

The Oaks, scheduled for 1 ¼ miles on turf, was moved to the main track at the same distance due to heavy rains. Queen Goddess, off at 14-1 under Juan Hernandez, won by 2 ¾ lengths over her stablemate, a 7-1 shot ridden by John Velazquez.

“It’s a prestigious race and carries a lot of status,” McCarthy said in explaining why he opted to run both fillies, each with main track breeding, Queen Goddess by 2003 Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker and the English-bred Single Soul by Dubawi.

“It was disappointing the race was taken off the turf, but by and large I left it up to the owners,” McCarthy explained.

“I spoke with each, told them the pros and cons, they were sportsmanlike and chose to run.”

With surprising victories this year by Rombauer in the Preakness Stakes and Ce Ce in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, 2021 was a banner year for the Youngstown, Ohio native, who turns 51 Feb. 1 and hopes to continue his success in 2022.

“I’m definitely looking forward to it,” McCarthy said.

Rombauer and Ce Ce each breezed four furlongs this morning, the former clocked in 46.60 and the latter in 48.20.

 

SANTA ANITA POSTS SUCCESSFUL OPENER DESPITE TURF SCRATCHES

With six races shifted from turf to dirt, resulting in 10 program scratches, business prospects for Santa Anita’s 85th Winter/Spring Meet opener were a bit subdued yesterday, but business was indeed brisk.  With $2.3 million wagered on-track, yesterday’s total pari-mutuel handle was $19.4 million, making it the third-best Opening Day handle ever.

“We really want to thank the fans for supporting us and the horsemen for going with the changes and participating,” said Santa Anita Senior Vice President and General Manager, Nate Newby.  “Although it didn’t rain yesterday, we had over 4 ½ inches of rain in the five days leading into Sunday, so the decision was made to come off the turf.

“I want to acknowledge the great job Dennis Moore and his team did yesterday in having the main track in tremendous shape.  We had great racing and some great performances, just a fabulous day.”

-Mike Willman

 

MANY WAGERING OPTIONS AT SANTA ANITA MEET

Santa Anita’s winter/spring meet offers players a plethora of wagering options, including the popular 20-cent Single Ticket Rainbow Pick Six Jackpot and a North American-low takeout of 15.43 percent on all $2 win, place and show wagers and the 50-cent Early Pick 5 which features a low 14 percent takeout, as well as the 50-cent Late Pick 5.

With the Jackpot provision in place, the 20-cent Single Ticket Rainbow Pick Six requires a perfect single ticket for a potentially life-changing payoff. Providing there is no single ticket winner, consolation tickets with the highest number of winners receive a payoff of 70 percent of the pool. The remaining 30 percent is carried over to a Jackpot pool which will accrue until there is a single ticket winner or a designate mandatory payoff day.

The $1 Stronach Five will be offered each Friday consisting of a series of five races from Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park, Laurel Park and Golden Gate Fields. The Stronach Five has a low takeout of 12 percent.

Players using the wagering app 1ST BET or Xpresssbet will receive a bonus of $10,000 in “splits,” for example, a “split” on a $5,000 prize pool will be evenly distributed among all players making winning bets. If four winning players are to share the split, each would receive $1,250.

For further wagering information, please visit santaanita.com or call 626 574-RACE.

 

FINISH LINES: Due to heavy rains forecast early this week, Santa Anita has cancelled Thursday’s races and will resume live action Friday at 12:30 p.m. when there is free General Admission and parking . . . With inclement weather imminent, there were 269 recorded workouts Monday, 42 on the training track . . . Per the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Mega Event Guidelines, fans 12 and older must provide proof of vaccination status prior to entering Santa Anita Park. Alternatively, fans can show proof of a negative test result (taken within 72 hours from date of event). For more information on safety protocols, please visit santaanita.com/health.