WASHINGTON: Undefeated Flightline cemented his superhorse status in spectacular fashion, pulling away in the stretch for a breathtaking 8 1/4-length triumph in Saturday’s $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.
French jockey Flavien Prat rode the heavily favored four-year-old colt to victory in the 1 1/4-mile showdown, which capped a two-day, 14-race card worth more than $30 million at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky.
“This is one of the great horses of all time. I think history will show that,” Flightline trainer John Sadler said.
Flightline left behind his last rival at the top of the final stretch and surged to an impressive victory.
“He showed so much talent,” Prat said. “We were expecting a great run from him. I thought it was one of the deepest fields but he was an all-pro.
“He broke really well. I was traveling well and he relaxed really well down the back side. I felt like I was in control the whole race.”
The 2-5 favorite, Prat’s fourth career Breeders’ Cup winning ride, improved to 5-0 with 25-1 Olympiad left a distant second and Taiba (8-1) finishing third.
“This is a very special animal to our sport,” Flightline co-owner Kosta Hironis said. “We need a hero. We need a champion. We need an undefeated horse and somebody that can really go out and do his thing.
“And that’s Flightline.”
Asked about the horse’s future, a prior plan to retire him to stud or perhaps possible future races in the wake of the Classic romp, Hironis said no decision has been made.
“The partnership group will get together in the next couple of days and consider how we’re going to move forward,” he said.
Hironis was impressed at how Flightline, who missed out on US Triple Crown bid as a three-year-old as injuries disrupted his early career, answered the Classic challenge.
“He keeps stepping up to every challenge and keeps proving himself,” Hironis said. “And today against the very best competition on a new racetrack... he just seemed to put another step forward and proved himself the best.”
The son of Tapit delighted Sadler with his dominant performance.
“Really a great win,” Sadler said. “He ran beautiful, just like we thought he could. It’s wonderful when it all works out.”
Classic entrant Epicenter was taken from the track by ambulance and later diagnosed with a “repairable” fracture to his right front leg. The horse was to undergo surgery on Sunday.
Rebel’s Romance won the $4 million Turf by 2 1/4 lengths, covering the 1 1/2 miles in a course-record 2:26.25 to deliver a record fourth victory of the event for Godolphin Stables, following the Mile, Dirt Mile and Juvenile Turf Sprint.
Another horse trained by Britain’s Charlie Appleby, Godolphin’s Modern Games, seized command in a seven-wide mid-stretch move to win the $2 million Mile by 3/4 of a length.
Todd Pletcher-trained Malathaat, ridden by John Velazquez, won a three-way photo finish in the final stride to edge 24-1 longshot Blue Stripe in the $2 million Distaff with third-place Clairiere another nose back.
Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien took his 16th career Breeders’ Cup win and first in the $2 million Filly & Mare Turf when Tuesday defeated In Italian by a length.
Elite Power overtook favored Jackie’s Warrior at the sixteenth pole and took a 1 1.4-length triumph in the $2 million Sprint, the third victory of the event for jockey Irad Ortiz in 1:09.11 for six furlongs.
Godolphin’s homebred Cody’s Wish edged Cyberknife by a head to win the $1 million Dirt Mile in 1:35.33.
Caravel went to the front at the start and led all the way to win the $1 million Turf Sprint by half a length over Emaraaty Ana, completing 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:01.79 for an upset victory by a 42-1 longshot.
Favored Goodnight Olive won the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint by 2 1/2 lengths, covering seven furlongs in 1:21.61.