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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

FLIGHTLINE: MORNING AFTER

By Del Mar Press Staff — It was a busy morning at Barn K on the backside at Del Mar. That’s where trainer John Sadler keeps his horses, though only one in particular seemed to be getting all the attention. Groups of visitors stopped by to get a glimpse of racing’s newest superstar, Sadler engaging many of them.

Flightline, however, couldn’t be bothered. Every once in a while he’d poke his head out of his stall to see what all the fuss was about but otherwise he stayed tucked away, out of sight.

Sadler says his undefeated son of Tapit and winner of the G1 TVG Pacific Classic Saturday came out of the race good with no problems.

“We’re literally talking 14-hours but this early, he looks perfect,” he says.

You can add that to Flightline’s developing legacy. He puts in a near-record performance, wins by the largest margin ever in the Pacific Classic (19 ¼ lengths) and 14-hours later he’s back to his old self.

For Sadler, the most impressive aspect of Flightline’s race Saturday was the way he opened up on the rest of the field.

“Obviously, I was thrilled about him putting them away on the turn,” Sadler says. “That was really exciting, probably the funnest part.

“I was just so happy to see him good and clear,” he added. “He was always going to have a clear trip once he got going a little bit. A little bump at the start but once he got clear I knew it was going to be good from there.”

So what’s in the immediate future for Flightline?

“He’ll walk for three days and then he’ll probably go back and jog a little bit this week,” Sadler says. “Then ship up to Santa Anita and we’ll start finalizing our plans for Breeders’ Cup.”

“I think he thinks he won the race,” trainer Bob Baffert exclaimed soon after the race. He was referring to the runner-up, Country Grammer. Baffert said Sunday morning his Dubai World Cup winner came out of the race great and looks good.

“He likes a deeper race track,” Baffert says. “That was a little bit too fast for him. He wasn’t going to win but he would have been closer.”

Baffert says they’re going to wait and see how Country Grammer is doing in the next couple of days before deciding where to go with him next.

Trainer Richard Mandella had two words for how his horses came out of the Pacific Classic…”shell shocked.” He says Royal Ship, who finished third, and Extra Hope, who finished fifth, came out of the race good.

“We’ll probably look at the Awesome Again at Santa Anita (for Royal Ship),” Mandella says, “and the Tokyo City for Extra Hope at a mile and a half.”

Rounding out the field, Express Train, trainer John Shirreff’s Santa Anita Handicap winner, finished fourth in the Classic. Stilleto Boy, from the Ed Moger, Jr. barn, was wide in both turns and finished last.

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