Flightline is headlining a field of six in the Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar Saturday (late) afternoon. It’s the million-dollar question as to whether the undefeated (4-for-4) colt can get the 1¼ miles. The morning line maker thinks so, installing the 4-year-old Tapit colt as the miniscule 1-5 favorite in the horse racing odds. Flightline is seeming to be a free bingo-card space in horizontal wagers. The value must be found in the Pick 5, including this signature race “where the turf meets the turf down at old Del Mar.”
- Extra Hope, Tyler Baze, 30-1
- Country Grammar, John Velazquez, 4-1
- Royal Ship, Mike Smith, 8-1
- Express Train, Victor Espinoza, 12-1
- Flightline, Flavien Prat, 1-5
- Stilleto Boy, Juan Hernandez, 20-1
Paying The Price Early?
Flightline is 4-for-4 lifetime by a combined 43½ lengths, winning the Metropolitan Mile Belmont (Park) Day by six lengths. The 112 Beyer speed figure he earned that day is tied for second-highest among all horses in 2022. Stilleto Boy received a 108 in winning the Californian (Santa Anita) in late April. Express Train was second in that race, earning a 106. Flightline’s been less than even-money in all his races when betting online.
Everyone in the Pacific Classic has early speed, but it’s Flightline who appears the fastest. He has faced only one horse in this field, having defeated Stilleto Boy by a dozen lengths in the seven-furlong Malibu (Santa Anita) last December. With the first half of the Pacific going in 46 or so seconds, that puts Flightline’s stamina to the test over the final six panels.
Flightline will have plenty of competition. Royal Ship defeated Country Grammar by 2¼ lengths and Stilleto Boy by 6½ in winning the San Diego Handicap, Del Mar’s Pacific prep, in July. Express Train makes his first start in more than four months but has delivered off the bench.
John Sadler, Flightline’s trainer, has won three of the last four Pacific Classic editions (the race is for 3-year-olds and older). He has handled the lightly-raced horse with care. “If you had a Lamborghini, would you be stepping on the gas pedal every day? No,” Sadler told Bloodhorse. “Most of my job is just keeping him relaxed.” Flightline worked five furlongs in 59⅗ seconds on Aug. 27. “What we try to do is just maintain his rhythm, keep him in the same place he’s been in,” Sadler said. “We were thrilled. He did a minute effortlessly, and he’s essentially ready.”
In the multi-race wagering, Flightline seems to be single. If he cannot get the distance or has a bad day, then perhaps Dubai World Cup winner Country Grammar is the choice. Country Grammar is 2-for-3 at the distance, figuring to move forward with his first race since March under his belt.
It’s the 10th race, with a scheduled post time of 8:50 p.m. ET.
Pacific Classic Race Information
- Race: $1 million Pacific Classic
- Location: Del Mar, Del Ma, CA
- Day/Post Time: Saturday, Sept 3rd, 8:50 p.m. ET (Race 10)
- Pacific Classic Live Stream: TVG
Pick 5, Big Fields Surround Pacific Classic
The Pick 5 starts with the Del Mar Mile Stakes on the turf (Race 7, post time: 7:10 p.m. ET). Hong Kong Harry is the 3-1 favorite in the 10-horse field, having finished second in the Grade II Eddie Read Stakes on July 31. He is 7-for-11 lifetime, with a Grade III victory at the distance. Cathkin Peak (4-1) was a half-length behind Hong Kong Harry in that race after enduring trouble throughout. Cathkin Peak was last after being bumped from both sides soon after the start. He finished with good energy, though, checking briefly down the backstretch and altering course in the stretch. Tarantino (15-1) makes his first start since finishing second by 1¾ lengths (to Hong Kong Harry) in the American (Santa Anita) in June, with a chance to start the Racing Pick 5 with a bang.
The second leg of the sequence features another field of 10, allowance-optional claiming event at seven furlongs. Redline (7-2) gets the services of John Velazquez for his third try at this level. Exalted (4-1) makes back-to-back starts in a typical period of time for the first time in more than 1½ years. That’s a sign trainer Peter Eurton could have him right. Flavien Prat also sees fit to ride.
The race preceding the Pacific Classic is the Grade II, $300,000 Del Mar Derby, 3-year-olds going 1⅛ miles on the lawn. Balnikhov (5-2) ought to be tough after winning the Oceanside Stakes-this track’s prep-by 1½ lengths in late July. He drew outside in the field of nine. Four finished behind Balnikhov in the Oceanside, MacKinnon (3-1) running fourth at even-money. MacKinnon, who finished a good third in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, makes his second start since February and has the ability to turn the tables on Balnikhov.
Sequence ends with the Grade II, $300,000 Del Mar Handicap. There are 11 veterans to contest the 1⅜-mile test on the Jimmy Durante turf course. Master Piece, the 3-1 favorite, rallied for a 3¼-length victory in the Grade II Eddie Read here July 31. Masteroffoxhounds and Tango Tango Tango will take another shot at Master Piece after finishing four and 5¼ lengths back, respectively, in the Read. Heywoods Beach, Tizamagician, Order and Law, and Dicey Mo Chara all come out of Del Mar’s Cougar II Stakes July 24 at 1½ miles on the dirt. Order and Law were beaten three lengths by winner Heywoods Beach that day after a wide trip, with Tizamagician second by one. Order and Law is 30-1 in his return to the turf. The 8-year-old Red King (8-1) is another price possibility to play, along with Order and Law and Master Piece. Each should be running late in a race loaded with speed.
Check the racebook prior to Race 11 for the Pick 5 will pays.