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LEXINGTON, KY – Hronis Racing, Summer Wind Equine, West Point Thorougbreds, Siena Farm and Woodford Racing’s undefeated Flightline ($2.88) sealed his place among racing’s legends with an 8 ¼-length victory in the 39th running of the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) for 3-year-olds and up Saturday afternoon at Keeneland.
Trained by John Sadler and ridden by Flavien Prat, Flightline completed the 1 1/4 miles on a fast track in 2:00.05. It is the second Classic victory for Sadler, who won with Accelerate in 2018 at Churchill Downs, and the first Classic for Prat, who was winning his fourth overall Breeders’ Cup race.
Life Is Good shot to the front out of the gate with Flightline taking up a stalking position to his outside through fractions of :22.55, :45.47 and 1:09.62 as the two opened up 10 lengths on the rest of the field.
Nearing the far turn, Prat took a look over his shoulder to see if anyone was closing in but there was nothing behind him but open space. Flightline was 3 lengths back on the turn but rapidly cut into the deficit and reached even terms at the top of the stretch.
Life Is Good had no response as Flightline roared on by and quickly opened up leaving the race for place that was earned by Olympiad, who finished a half-length in front of Taiba.
Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike finished another 2 ½ lengths back in fourth and was followed in order by Life Is Good, Hot Rod Charlie and Happy Saver. Epicenter did not finish.
The victory was worth $3,120,000 and increased Flightline’s bankroll to $4,514,800 with six wins in six starts.
Flightline is a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Tapit out of the Indian Charlie mare Feathered.
Winning trainer John Sadler (Flightline): “It was a beautiful ride. No panic on (Flavien Prat’s) part. He let the horse do the running. We’re thrilled. It’s not about me, it’s about the horse. He’s a great horse.
“A great win today. He just ran beautiful; just like we thought he could. It’s wonderful when it all works out. That’s a very good horse that was second. This is one of the greatest horses of all time.”
Winning co-owner Stephanie Hronis (Flightline): “It’s just astronomical. It’s a thrill to see him pull it off. To tie it up with Life Is Good, you just never know what can happen because this is horse racing. He did it. It’s just a dynamic duo between (Flavien) Prat and Flightline. We’re so proud. It’s a great time we have.”
Winning jockey Flavien Prat (Flightline): “He shows so much talent. We were expecting a great run from him. He was an old pro. He broke sharp. I was worried that because he never really breaks super sharp. And was able to get myself in the clear, he was traveling well and relaxed well down the backside. I felt like was in control the whole race.
(On if there was any doubt): “Once I broke well and was where I wanted to be, I was in control. You never know what to expect because it’s horse racing. Sometimes it doesn’t happen the way you think it will. I can’t thank enough John Sadler and Juan Leyva (his exercise rider).
Second-place trainer Bill Mott (Olympiad): “How could you be more pleased? We’re here on the wrong year. His race would have won some other Classics.”
Second-place jockey Junior Alvarado (Olympiad): “I had a great experience even if I didn’t win. I’m a little guy and I had such a break to have a horse like Olympiad, but then what a break to have a horse like flightline in the race! That was a race like you might see in 60 or 70 years, once in a lifetime period I am happy that I will forever be known as the guy who finished second to Flightline in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I was excited that one horse was coming on at the end come up but I knew I had no shot to win. I hope they keep him running next year. that is my big hope. I am so happy even though I didn’t win.”
Third-place Trainer Bob Baffert (Taiba): “He slipped leaving the gate and lost a little bit, but he ran a tremendous race. He has so much heart. He’s running against two outstanding 4-year-olds. I would have loved to run second. I knew Flightline; he just reminds me of American Pharoah. He ran a gallant race. I’m proud of him. He’s tough. You watch him work in the morning you’d never think he’s that good, But when he gets in the gate he’s a different horse.On Flightline: “He’s a beast. I’ve been watching him. John Sadler has done a tremendous job with him. He deserves that win the way he handled him. Just a tremendous racehorse. Horses like him,, Pharoah, Justify, Arrogate, they don’t come along very often. I’ve watched him train. I’m sure that John was under a lot of pressure. I’m sure he was like me when he turned for home he probably thought ‘I should have gone to more parties this week and enjoyed myself.’ You’re under the gun.”
Third-place Jockey Mike Smith (Taiba): “Honestly, he ran huge. I was in really tight and he slipped a little leaving the gate. But after that, he really ran huge.”
Fifth-place Trainer Todd Pletcher (Life Is Good): “Life Is Good was moving really well, but was going really fast early. He was traveling well until the last furlong and just couldn’t see it out.”
“Happy Saver never really got on track. He didn’t like the kickback and never seemed in a good rhythm.”
Fifth-place Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. (Life Is Good): “I tried to stay up at least two lengths, but I never could. He (Flightline) was on top of me every step of the way. He’s a really nice horse.”
Sixth-place Trainer Doug O’Neill (Hot Rod Charlie): “What can you say? Just a freakish performance from Flightline. Charlie, we are just grateful he came back in good shape and we will regroup. Hopefully they keep him in training.”
Sixth-place Jockey Tyler Gaffalione (Hot Rod Charlie): “That was unbelievable for two horses to be running like that. We were all back there together watching that up front. I’ve never seen anything like that. My horse went great but it just wasn’t our day.”
Seventh-place Jockey John Velazquez (Happy Saver): “I mean all you can say is ‘wow’. That horse (Flightline) is definitely a freak of nature. To go like he did today having a fast pace and being able to keep running, it’s one of those few things we see in racing that really impress us. It’s kind of sad that he might be done racing now. It’s hard to see him go away because this is what makes racing exciting.”
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