Flightline’s Perfect Landing

Runaway winner ends thrilling 2022 Breeders' Cup

Flightline, the world’s top-rated racehorse, justified his exalted reputation as he routed his rivals to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland on Saturday evening.

The colt, ridden by Flavien Prat for American trainer John Sadler, has been called the best horse in the United States since the legendary Secretariat.

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Victory in the $6m (£5.3m) race at Keeneland, Kentucky, was the sixth in a row for the unbeaten 2-5 favourite.

“This is one of the great horses of all time,” said Sadler.

Anticipation was at fever pitch before the Classic after the four-year-old Flightline had won by 19 lengths last time out.

Flightline was always near the front and in the home straight overhauled long-time leader Life Is Good and surged clear to triumph.

Olympiad was eight and a quarter lengths back in second.

“He’s just a remarkable racehorse. There were 3000 people who came just to see him do a workout last week,” added Sadler.

Veteran jockey Mike Smith, who rode third-placed Taiba, said Flightline was the best horse he had ever seen.

“I take my hat off to him. He just has a different engine and breathes different air. He’s up there with old Secretariat,” said Smith.

Secretariat won the US Triple Crown in 1973 and was victorious 16 times in 21 races.

Flightline (Flavien Prat), wins the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (Pic – Carolyn Simancik/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup)

The big question now, of course, is whether Flightline will race on at five. Injury robbed him of the chance to run in the Triple Crown races as a three-year-old, and he is still just six races into his career.

Every trip to the track is a risk, however, and there is 2.5pc of Flightline up for auction at the Keeneland sales on Monday. That will put a value on Sadler’s colt, and it is likely to be so extraordinarily inflated that there will be no insurer on the planet willing to underwrite a five-year-old career. It’s not yet been confirmed, but Flightline’s sixth race was probably his last, for inescapable financial reasons.

Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes runner-up Epicenter was pulled up in the Classic with a leg injury and walked on to a horse ambulance.

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