Undefeated Flightline Wins 2022 Horse Of The Year Award

Written By Andrew Champagne on January 27, 2023

Standout thoroughbred racehorse Flightline made an undeniable impact during his short career. He raced just six times, but finished his career undefeated after a romp in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.

On Thursday night, the California horse racing sensation earned two final honors: Champion Older Dirt Male and, most importantly, Horse of the Year.

Horse racing’s Eclipse Awards were held Thursday night at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla., but the event had a distinct California feel. Flightline earned 239 of 242 first-place votes for Horse of the Year and 240 of 242 nods for Champion Older Dirt Male.

Three 2022 starts, three Grade 1 wins

A son of Tapit, Flightline started his 4-year-old season on the sidelines. After recovering from an injury, he headed east to Belmont Park for the Metropolitan Handicap (otherwise known as the Met Mile). Despite a slow beginning, Flightline cruised to a six-length victory and stopped the timer in a sizzling 1:33.59.

Up next was the TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar. He faced a field that included Dubai World Cup winner Country Grammer, but proved to be on another level.

Flightline and jockey Flavien Prat took command midway through the race and drew away with ease to win by nearly 20 lengths. The time of the 1 1/4-mile event was 1:59.28, less than one-fifth of a second off the track record set by Candy Ride in 2003.

Flightline’s campaign and career concluded with a stop at Keeneland for the Breeders’ Cup. He faced his stiffest test yet in the form of multiple Grade 1 winner Life Is Good, who outpaced Flightline early on and set a blistering pace. Flightline, though, engaged that rival on the far turn, assumed command, and bounded home to win his finale by more than eight lengths.

What’s next for Flightline?

Immediately after the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Flightline was retired to stud at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky. His first-year stud fee of $200,000 is the highest since Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

Another illustration of Flightline’s value came at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale. A 2.5% fractional interest in the champion was sold for $4.6 million. At that valuation, an argument can be made that Flightline is worth $184 million.

Flightline was owned by a partnership that included Hronis Racing, Summer Wind Equine and West Point Thoroughbreds. He was trained by John Sadler, who also campaigned prior Eclipse Award winners Accelerate and Stellar Wind.

Is another Flightline-type talent about to emerge?

Probably not. However, looking ahead to 2023, California may once again house the top older male in training.

Taiba is one of only a few of last year’s top 3-year-olds to not be retired to stud. The multiple Grade 1 winner is trained by Bob Baffert and was last seen winning the Malibu Stakes in late-December.

Taiba, whose name is another moniker for the city of Medina, will make his next start in the Saudi Cup. The race, scheduled for Feb. 25 in Riyadh, boasts a $20 million purse.

Photo by AP Photo / Darron Cummings
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Andrew Champagne

Andrew Champagne is a Content Manager at Catena Media, as well as an award-winning writer and producer. A passionate storyteller, Andrew boasts a career that has included stints at The Daily Racing Form, TVG Network, and HRTV. Born and raised in upstate New York, Andrew now resides in Northern California's Bay Area. You can often find him handicapping horse races, planning his next trip to Las Vegas, bowling reasonably well, and golfing incredibly poorly.

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