Horse Racing

Is Flightline’s Pacific Classic the best performance since Secretariat’s Belmont?

The Week in Review, by Bill Finley

Some more thoughts on Flight route (Tapit) while trying to find the superlative to describe his win in the GI TVG Pacific Classic. Words like breathtaking, stunning, sensational just don’t seem good enough.

It is tempting to try to compare him to the Secretariat. The problem is, that’s simply not possible. One ran only 5 times, the other ran 21 times, won Three Crowns, was Horse of the Year twice and had his picture on the covers of Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated. They won’t make a movie about Flightline. They are different horses from different eras, apple and orange horses. Is Flightline as good as the Secretariat, or the best horse since the Secretariat? There is no answer to that question.

But there’s a way to look at both under the same microscope by comparing the two best performances of their careers. The Secretariat’s 31-time winning streak at GI Belmont S. in 1973 was not only the greatest performance of his career but also the best race ever made by any horse at any time. any point in the history of horse racing. No one can tell what he did that afternoon 49 years ago in Belmont Park.But you could easily argue that Flightline’s Pacific Classic is the best performance anyone in America has seen since. This is not an easy task. Country Grammer (Tonalist), Royal Ship (Brz) (Shipman), Express train (Union Rags ) were older horses, all Class I horses. And Flightline beat them, winning by 19 1/4 lengths despite being knocked out by rider Flavien Prat in the final sixteenth match. He runs a Beyer 126, the second best ever given by the Beyer team and two points after 128 are awarded to Ghostzapper

(Awesome again) when he won the GIII Philip H. Iselin H. in 2004.

As broadcaster Trevor Denman said on his call, “Watch this closely because this is something you won’t see too often. Probably never again.”

It is worth noting that the two races played out almost identically. The Secretariat’s opponents were still in striking distance midway as Sham was close. He then moved away from Sham and, from there, continued to expand his profits relative to his competitors. Flight did the same thing. With half a mile left in the race, Extra Hope (Shanghai Bobby) is only one distance behind Flightline while the main competitors are all within five or six miles. Then Flightline hit another gear, took off and left behind some fine horses that looked as if they belonged to the seventh at the Finger Lakes.

Then there’s the look back. Prat looked over his right shoulder as if he couldn’t believe he was so far ahead. Ron Turcotte did the same, just looking over his left shoulder.

“These races are very similar,” said Dave Johnson, who called Belmont in 1973 for the NYRA. “His Pacific Classic was breathtaking and his burst of speed when it was the long turn was very similar to what the Secretariat did. Almost 50 years later, I have never been impressed by a horse or seen something that takes me back to the days of the Secretariat.”

There’s one thing we still haven’t seen from Flightline, which is what he would do if asked. Prat never allowed this horse to shoot at all the pylons in the ramp. It is not necessary to do so. Why not save something for another day?

But could Flightline win the Pacific Classic even more than 19 1/4 lengths if Prat hadn’t swaddled him? That’s why he can have, maybe even add five or six lengths.

Since GI Breeders’ Cup Classic will likely be his last start this year and possibly in his career, why not let him in? It wouldn’t be great to see what Flightline could do if his racer called it all he had. Maybe he wins in 31 lengths. What do they have to lose?

The only negative to the Flightline story is that he’s only run five times. Part of the reason why is that he’s had some bad luck (like crashing into a fence and taking a ferocious bump while he’s being broken like a yearning child) and other minor setbacks. on the road. But his gentle schedule favors the movements of the top horses of the modern era and what really matters is not what they do on the track but their value as horses. alike. You can’t blame coach John Sadler, who mapped out the schedule. His job was to make a very valuable stallion and in that respect he did everything right.

We also don’t know how many challenges there are to prepare Flightline for the races. He may be one of those horses that is too fast for his own good horses, horses that need a lot of rest between races.

But, as racing fans, we should all feel deceived that we’ve seen too few of these horses. The good news is that this story may not be over yet. Yes, he is worth more of a stallion than a racehorse, but after the Pacific Classic, Sadler told reporters that relationships are open minded when it comes to racing with him next year. until a child is 5 years old. Just give it a try. Sometimes the story is more than the bottom line and owners should feel they at least have an obligation to do what’s best for the sport.

Will the Pacific Classic affect the Breeders’ Cup plan among some of the other top horses in the older stallion class? The question is: no matter how good your horse is, do you really want to join Flightline in Classic in an exercise that can be a futile exercise, especially when there is a GI Breeders option available. ‘Cup Dirt Mile? If I were a Life Is Good (Into Mischief) connector, I would have pre-filled the contest entry for Dirt Mile. Remember when there was some concern that the Flyway might not reach a mile and a quarter? Looking back, he’s clearly better at 10 intervals than in shorter races. No wonder he’s with Tapit.

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