Any questions? Flightline stamped himself as one of the best horses in the last 50 years with an 8¼-length triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday in what was his final race. Flightline is 6-for-6 by a combined 71 lengths. Prior to Flightline’s epic run, Forte stamped himself as a strong 2023 Kentucky Derby contender and wrapped up the 2-year-old Eclipse Award with a 1½-length victory at 5-1 in the horse racing odds over heavily favored Cave Rock.
The Best of What’s Around
Flightline’s place in history is secured after earning a 121 Beyer in the Classic. He sat just off pacesetter Life is Good through blistering fractions of 22.55, 45.47 and 1:09.62 before taking over after a mile and drawing away at 44 cents to the dollar when betting online. The margin of victory didn’t match the 19¼-length romp or 126 Beyer in the Pacific Classic, but Saturday’s field was significantly stronger. An emotional John Sadler spoke to the media about the best horse he’s handled in his 40-plus years as a trainer.
“How do you describe greatness?” Sadler said. “This is a rare horse that happens every 20 or 30 years. One of the best American racehorses we’ve seen in a long, long time. And I’m talking about Secretariat, Seattle Slew, you go through the list and what I’ve tried to be is a good steward to him. … Most trainers don’t get a horse like this so I’m just feeling very blessed.”
Quick Turn of Foot His Forte
Cave Rock was the 2-5 favorite at the racebook to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but Forte had other ideas. Forte, trained by Todd Pletcher, is 4-for-5 after winning three straight races — all with a decisive move around the final turn.
“Obviously delighted with everything,” Pletcher told the media. “He got a beautiful trip. Just kept coming.” Pletcher said Forte will get some time off before executing a “two-step program” to prepare for the Kentucky Derby.
Cave Rock received early pressure from 70-1 shot Hurricane J, forcing him into contested fractions of 22.90, 47.01 and 1:11.77. The Bob Baffert trainee was 3-for-3 entering the Juvenile.
“He didn’t switch leads until way late,” Baffert said. “He got tired, and that other horse came running. He ran a big race. There is a reason why he won three in a row. He’ll get a lot out of it.”
Cup Runneth Overs
Trainer Charlie Appleby and Godolphin Racing Stable own the Breeders’ Cup Mile and Turf. They won both for the second straight year when favored Modern Game prevailed in the Mile and Rebel’s Romance finished first in the Turf at nearly 6-1. Appleby, an eye-popping 9-for-18 in the Breeders’ Cup with two seconds and a third, also won the Juvenile Turf Sprint on Friday with Mischief Magic. …
Trainer Aiden O’Brien also won three turf races, making the Europeans 6-for-7 on the grass in the 2022 Breeders’ Cup. O’Brien scored with Meditate in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, Victoria Road in the Juvenile Turf and Tuesday in the Filly and Mare Turf. … Malathaat won a thrilling three-horse blanket finish by a nose over upset-minded Blue Stripe in the Distaff
John Velazquez swung Malathaat wide around the far turn and mowed them down in the final strides. Clairiere, who defeated Malathaat twice in 2022, was another nose back in third. Nest was caught wide entering the final turn and wound up fourth at 7-5. …
Cody’s Wish was a game winner of the Dirt Mile, and the feel-good story of the weekend. The Bill Mott-trained horse is named after Cody Dorman, a Kentucky teenager who has Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. …
Golden Pal and Jackie’s Warrior lost their final career races on Saturday as heavy favorites. Golden Pal was 6-5 to win his third straight Breeders’ Cup race, but broke slowly and was never a factor in the Turf Sprint. Jackie’s Warrior was third at 3-5 in the Sprint in losing his third straight Breeders’ Cup race as the favorite. …
Those who acted on our Breeders’ Cup mythical bankroll story were rewarded handsomely when Friday’s $18 Pick 5 ticket returned $2,428.02. Jackie’s Warrior was the only loser on Saturday’s $48 Pick 6 play, resulting in a $43.24 payout for 5-of-6.