America’s next big talking horse – FLIGHTLINE – will head a field of six runners ahead of Saturday’s $1m Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar. The John W. Sadler colt is unbeaten from all four career starts and has remarkably won those races by an aggregate of 44 lengths!
With the Pacific Classic also holding a Breeders’ Cup ‘win and you’re in’ status, then should this talented 4 year-old land Saturday’s Del Mar feature it will then be all roads to Keeneland on November 5.
Flightline will face six others in this weekend’s 2022 Pacific Classic Stakes, with the 2022 Dubai World Cup hero, Country Grammer one of the other star names that will be trying to burst the Flightline bubble (see the full runners and riders below).
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When Is The 2022 Pacific Classic Stakes?
Run over a trip of 1m2f (10 furlongs), the Grade I Pacific Classic Stakes is staged at Del Mar racetrack in California.
📅Date: Saturday September 3, 2022
🏇Racetrack: Del Mar racetrack, California, (Dirt)
💰 Purse: $1,000,000
📺 TV: FanDuel TV
You can bet on the Grade I Pacific Classic Stakes with BOVADA and receive a 100% MATCH-UP welcome bonus (up to $1,000) to use on the race.
Pacific Classic Stakes 2022 Runners and Riders
1. EXTRA HOPE @ SP with BOVADA
Trainer: Richard Manella
Jockey: Tyler Baze
Six races without a success, with that last win coming on November 21 2020! Just three runs this year but took a slight step forward last time when only 1 1/4 lengths back in third in the Grade 3 Cougar II Stakes at Del Mar over 1m4f. His trainer, Richard Mandella has a fine record in the race with four wins that stretch from 1996 to 2015. However, we’ve only had one winning 6 year-old of this race since 2005 and regardless of that stat it would be a major upset if Extra Hope is taking this.
2. COUNTRY GRAMMER @ SP with BOVADA
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: John Velazquez
Certainly looks the main threat to lowering the colours of Flightline. From the powerful Bob Baffert yard that have six past success in this race and need just one more to overtake Robert Frankel. This 5 year-old landed the lucrative Dubai World Cup at Meydan back on March 26 (watch below) and returned at the end of July with a fair second in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap. And also had last year’s Pacific Classic winner – Tripoli – way back in 6th (beaten 6 lengths).
He’ll be sharper today and his backers will know he stays this 1m2f trip well, while since joining Baffert in April 21 the horse is yet to finish out of the first two (5 runs). Those looking to take on Flightline are likely to be drawn to Country Grammer, who has amassed just under $10.9m in total prize money, while if successful will be jockey John Velazquez’s first win in this race.
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3. ROYAL SHIP @ SP with BOVADA
Trainer: Richard Mandella
Jockey: Mike Smith
Another from the Richard Mandella barn that have recorded four wins in this Grade 1 and certainly won’t be without his supporters. He was the horse that beat Country Grammer last time in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 31 and had 2 1/4 lengths in-hand at the winning post.
The worry for him though might be the step back up in trip, with all three recent runs over this 1m2f distance resulting in defeats. Regular jockey Mike Smith gets the leg-up again and with four past wins in this race (2002, 2009, 2010 and 2014) he’ll have bundles of experience in the saddle.
4. EXPRESS TRAIN @ SP with BOVADA
Trainer: John Shirreffs
Jockey: Victor Espinoza
Has a decent record on the dirt with 6 wins and 13 top three finishes from 15 outings. Last seen grabbing a fair silver medal in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes at Santa Anita on April 30, so will come here fresher than most. Course winner at Del Mar too after winning the 2021 running of the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap and will have jockey Victor Espinoza, who won this race on California Chrome in 2016, doing the steering.
5. FLIGHTLINE @ SP with BOVADA
Trainer: John Sadler
Jockey: Flavien Prat
The horse all eyes will be on here. Flightline is unbeaten from his opening four race and has landed those contests by a remarkable total of 44 lengths. No secret that connections think he can go to the very top, but will need to take another big step forward here if he’s to live up to his already growing reputation.
Last seen bolting up in the Grade 1 Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap on June 11 by an easy 6 lengths (watch below).
He’s already being touted as a contender to challenge the English-trained Baaeed as the highest-rated horse in training and with Saturday’s Pacific Classic a ‘win and you’re in’ Breeders’ Cup race, then all eyes will be on Keeneland for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 5 after this.
Those looking to take him on will not have much to cling to, but with this being this first attempt beyond a mile, then not getting the 1m2f trip will be all his doubters have to go on. So far, his wins have been over 6f, 7f and 1m (last time), but being by Tapit his breeding suggests this extra yardage is within range – we’ll find out on Saturday!
What Do Flightline’s Connections Say?
John W. Sadler (trainer) “This is not an ordinary horse, this is a very special horse. There is a lot of pressure on you, but it is the pressure you want. You know you have something special and he is much the best. You just don’t want to screw it up.”
“This is a tough ask. To go from a mile to a mile and a quarter in your fifth start, it’s not an easy thing. But we feel he is capable of doing it because he’s that kind of a horse.”
Bill Farish, (co-owner) “I think everything he has done sets him apart. Flightline is the creme de la creme. He rises echelons above the stars we see every year that come and go. Rarely have we ever had a horse at any level that the trainer has said from work one this is something seriously special.”
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6. STILLETO BOY @ SP with BOVADA
Trainer: Ed Moger Jr
Jockey: Juan Hernandez
Another of the likely outsiders and based on his last run at Del Mar has a fair bit of ground to make up. He was third – beaten 6 1/2 lengths – in the already mentioned Grade 2 San Diego Handicap and with Royal Ship (1st) and Country Grammer (2nd) in that race then he’s got form to turn around on two others in this race. He’s also back up to 1m2f here and that’s not a plus either, with his three recent tries over this distance all losses.
Recent Pacific Classic Stakes Winners
- 2021 – TRIPOLI
- 2020 – MAXIMUM SECURITY
- 2019 – HIGHER POWER
- 2018 – ACCELERATE
- 2017 – COLLECTED
- 2016 – CALIFORNIA CHROME
- 2015 – BEHOLDER
- 2014 – SHARED BELIEF