Flavien Prat, atop Flightline, looks between his legs for the rest of the field after winning the Breeders' Cup Classic at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., on Saturday. Photo by Mark Abraham/UPI | License Photo
LEXINGTON, Ky., Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Now there can be no doubt. Flightline is among the best horses ever to set foot on a racetrack.
After blowing away the best of his fellow older horses and the cream of the 3-year-old crop in Saturday's $6 million Grade I Longines Breeders' Cup Classic, remaining undefeated and untested after his sixth and likely final start, the 4-year-old Tapit colt left even his staunchest supporters grasping for superlatives.
"Brilliant is his normal," trainer John Sadler said. "He didn't disappoint, and he never has. He's just a remarkable, remarkable horse.
"He's a rare horse that happens every 20 or 30 years," Sadler added. "And I'm talking about Secretariat and Seattle Slew."
Although his victory in the Classic was expected, it still was breathtaking.
For the first time in his career, the colt was challenged through the first mile of the 1 1/4-miles event with the brilliant rival Life Is Good flying on the lead. Flightline was a few lengths back and the rest of the field might as well have been in a different race.
But when they turned into the stretch, Life Is Good could go no more and Flightline was just getting revved up.
With Flavien Prat riding with all the confidence in the world, Flightline drew off to win by 8 1/4 lengths. Olympiad, Taiba and Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike all passed Flightline in the stretch, leaving him to finish fifth.
Epicenter, this year's likely 3-year-old champion, was pulled up on the backstretch by jockey Joel Rosario with an injury to his right front leg. Keenland's veterinary team said the colt walked onto the equine ambulance and was being evaluated.
Flightline, bred and owned in part by Jane Lyons of Summer Wind Farm, has never won by fewer than 6 lengths, and double-digit victories were his norm.
In his warmup for the Classic, he won the Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar by 19 1/4 lengths, leading to the first serious comparison with Secretariat and other greats.
As with any 4-year-old with his credentials, Flightline's future is in the breeding shed, where he will be expected to pass on his genes to generations of progeny. But the partners in his ownership deal are not yet ready to make that announcement.
Last year's Classic winner, Knicks Go, had one more start in January in the Grade I Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park, where he finished second, 3 1/4 lengths behind Life Is Good.