Owner says a healthy Flightline will race at age 5

Owner says a healthy Flightline will race at age 5
Photo: Jason Moran / Eclipse Sportswire

Flightline, the undefeated winner of the Grade 1 Met Mile in his most recent start, will mount a 5-year-old campaign if he remains healthy and continues to relish racing, one of the colt’s co-owners said Wednesday.

“If he is healthy and he wants to continue to race … we would absolutely love to keep him on the racetrack another year," Kosta Hronis, whose Hronis Racing is one off five ownership interests in the John Sadler-trained colt, told Horse Racing Nation.

Shorter-term plans call for the 4-year-old son of Tapit to train up to the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) on Sept. 3 at Del Mar and bypass the $1 million Whitney Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, trainer John Sadler said via text Wednesday, confirming a Daily Racing Form report.

The Whitney (G1), to be run at 1 1/8 miles on Aug. 6, had been mentioned as a possibility for Flightline’s next start immediately after the colt survived a troubled start to impressively capture the $1 million Met Mile at Belmont Park on June 11.

But Terry Finley, president and CEO of West Point Thoroughbreds, another co-owner of the colt, said Sadler was more comfortable keeping Flightline out West.

“He trained really well at Del Mar last year, and it was just a matter of having to pick one over the other,” Finley said. “Obviously we weren’t going to run in both.”

The Pacific Classic will be Flightline’s first race beyond a mile after three scintillating victories in California before his Met Mile victory, all under jockey Flavien Prat. The 1 1/4-mile race is intended to serve as a stepping stone toward the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 5 at Keeneland, Hronis said.

He said the colt could make a start between those races, mentioning the $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes (G1), a 1 1/8-mile race on Oct. 1 at Santa Anita, as a possibility, depending on how he emerges from the Pacific Classic.

“Mr. Sadler’s philosophy is we don’t really make a schedule for the horses, the horses make a schedule for us,” Hronis said. “So we’re going to train him up to the Pacific Classic … and when he’s ready to run again, he’ll be on the racetrack. That’s for sure.”

Hronis said Flightline is expected to return to training within days at Santa Anita and possibly squeeze in a couple of works before continuing his preparations at Del Mar, which opens its summer meet on July 22.

“Any time you travel to New York and back, it takes a little longer before we can get him back to where he needs to be for training, so we’re just taking our time,” he said. “He’s a very fast horse and because of that, he requires a little more spacing than maybe the normal horse. Because he’s not a normal horse.”

Although he conceded that training Flightline up to a demanding race such as the Pacific Classic is not typical for a first try at 10 furlongs, he said the colt’s sterling performance in the Met Mile, where he won by six lengths after encountering early trouble, gave the connections confidence that he’ll be able to handle the classic distance.

“The mile came kind of naturally to him,” Hronis said. “That was a tough trip but he made the best of it, so we think he’s going to be fine going longer.”

In the meantime, Hronis said he and the other co-owners – Sienna Farm, Summer Wind Equine and Woodford Racing, as well as West Point Thoroughbreds – are savoring the experience and hopeful for many more breathtaking performances to come.

“All the partners are really honored to have a horse like this in their lifetime,” Hronis said. “It’s been a wonderful ride and we’re just going to continue to hope for the best for Flightline and the industry, because I think he’s something everyone can gravitate to.”

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