The Breeders’ Cup Classic has answered some questions over the years and the 2022 edition should have done more of the same. For those that inquired about the abilities of Flightline, an old Rick James disco tune was playing in the background after he crossed the finish line.
Coming into this mile-and-a-quarter test at Keeneland, admittedly, some had doubts about the abilities of Flightline. For those who had not seen him in person that was understandable. Having only raced five previous times, how good could this four-year-old really be? How would he stack up against a battle-hardened bunch in the biggest test of his career? Other heavy favorites had fallen throughout the previous thirteen races in the Breeders’ Cup so he was the next victim? Sure, his average margin of victory in those five previous runs was 12 ½ lengths, but it didn’t come against this class of runners.
The starting gates opened and the greatest test of Flightline’s racing life began. The first question was a suicidal early pace that he was a part of. The freakishly fast Life Is Good broke like a rocket and intuitively jockey Flavien Prat kept his mount close so as not to let the frontrunner get away. Clearing the opening quarter in a lightning 22.55 and the half-mile in a sizzling 45.47, Life Is Good was pressured by the intimidating presence of his pursuer. Oftentimes a trap, fast early fractions can cook even the best of runners.
Heading into the far turn, the next portion of the test came as the pace settled a bit. Running strong with emphatic, ground-gobbling strides, the John Sadler-trained Flightline came on even terms with the leader and assumed command at the quarter pole. Considering the early quickness, how would he finish with those closing horses waiting to pounce?
Here is where the quarter was placed in the jukebox and the Rick James tune got people to the dance floor. Thundering down the stretch like a runaway locomotive, Flightline flew toward the finish line with authority. As his lead grew with every stride, the final quarter mile was simply a showcase. Dancing over the dirt a geared down 8 ¼ lengths ahead of the rest of the field, the final answer to Flightline’s test was simply “Super Freak”.
Every sport has great athletes and Thoroughbred racing is no different. Every so often a really special one comes along. The track record for Flightline tells us all he is definitely in the Rick James category.