Flightline Seeks to Make Breeders Cup Classic Case Saturday at Del Mar

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Flightline Seeks to Make Breeders Cup Classic Case Saturday at Del Mar

A key race leading up to November’s Breeders’ Cup Classic takes place at Del Mar Saturday.

Flightline
Flightline
Flightline wins in his 2022 debut by a convincing six lengths in the June 9 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park. The John Sadler-trained 4-year-old colt, considered by many as the best horse currently racing, is the 1-5 morning line favorite in Saturday’s Pacific Classic at Del Mar. (Image: Susie Raisher/NYRA)

Flightline heads a field of six for the Pacific Classic at the Southern California track. Though lightly raced – the 4-year-old will make just his fifth career start Saturday – many consider the John Sadler-trained colt the best horse in racing. He’s won each of his races in dominating fashion. He won all three of his 3-year-old races by at least 11-1/2 lengths, and he won the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park in June by six lengths.

Despite never racing more than a mile, bettors have little doubt that the Tapit-sired colt can go the 1-1/4 miles in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Earlier this month, in the pari-mutuel futures pool for the Classic, Flightline ended with 2-1 odds, making him the clear favorite.

Saturday’s Pacific Classic will give Flightline a chance to show if he can be as dominant at the 1-1/4 mile distance and handle two turns. The race for 3-year-olds and up is also a “Win and You’re In” race, meaning the winner earns an automatic spot in the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland in Lexington, KY.

Flightline ‘Essentially Ready’

Flightline landed in the fifth gate in Tuesday’s post position draw. Track handicappers installed him as the 1-5 morning line favorite. Those odds tie the shortest odds given in the 32-year history of the race. Cigar got those odds ahead of the 1996 running. The public bet him down to 1-10 as he sought his 17th straight win. However, the legendary horse lost to Dare and Go, a 39-1 shot.

Jockey Flavian Prat will fly in from New York to get the mount.

Last Saturday, Sadler had Flightline go through what he called a “soft” workout in his final tune-up for this week’s race. The horse ran five furlongs in :59.6, the fifth best time of all workouts at that distance on that day.

Sadler deemed the horse “essentially ready” and noted Flightline produced the time “effortlessly.”

That’s what’s so exciting,” Sadler said after the final workout. “You look at the works and think, ‘Oh, he’s working fast,’ but in reality, he’s well within himself.”

The biggest challenger to Flightline will likely be Country Grammer. The 5-year-old horse trained by Bob Baffert ran second in the July 30 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar. John Velazquez will ride Country Grammer, who has 4-1 morning line odds and will break from the second gate.

Other horses entered in the Pacific Classic are Extra Hope (30-1, first gate), Royal Ship (8-1, third gate), Express Train (12-1, fourth gate), and Stilleto Boy (20-1, sixth gate).

Breeders’ Cup Classic Futures Pool Starts Friday

The second round of futures betting will take place on the Breeders’ Cup Classic starting Friday. Flightline enters that pool as the 5-2 morning line favorite.

But the gap might be a little narrower than it was a month ago. Epicenter, who finished the first round at 7-1 as the third choice, is the second choice this time with 7-2 morning line odds. Last weekend, he pulled out a convincing win in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

Life Is Good, a 4-year-old Todd Pletcher-trained colt and winner in five of his last six starts, is the third choice on the morning line at 4-1.

The futures pool – full field available here – runs through Monday. Betting is available at participating advanced deposit wagering sites, tracks, off-track betting centers, and simulcasting facilities.

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