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Jon White: Flightline Sparkles in Latest Workout

by Jon White

September 28, 2022

On Sept. 24, 1972, Secretariat worked five furlongs in 1:01 4/5 at Belmont Park for trainer Lucien Laurin.

On Sept. 24, 2022, Flightline worked four furlongs in :48.00 at Santa Anita Park for trainer John Sadler.

Two-year-old Secretariat’s Sept. 24 workout was his first since winning the Futurity on Sept. 16 at Belmont as a 1-5 favorite on the tote board. It was his fifth straight victory.

Four-year-old Flightline’s Sept. 24 workout was his first since winning the Pacific Classic on Sept. 3 at Del Mar as a 1-5 favorite on the tote board. It was his fifth straight victory.

Assistant trainer and regular exercise rider Juan Leyva was aboard Flightline for his Sept. 24 solo drill. You can view the workout on XBTV.

In this latest workout by Flightline, once again he was pure poetry in motion.

According to Daily Racing Form’s Brad Free, Sadler timed Flightline in :12.00 for the opening furlong, :23.80 for the quarter, then :35.80 for three furlongs. Sadler clocked Flightline completing the four-furlong drill in :48.40.

Be it :48.00 or :48.40, it was an excellent work on the part of Flightline, especially considering he did it effortlessly and on a surface playing slower than the main track at Del Mar.

As an indication of how well Flightline has been doing since his spectacular Pacific Classic performance, Free noted that this was the first time the Tapit colt has worked so soon after a race.

“He was going to work either three or four weeks” after the Pacific Classic, Sadler said. “He’s doing so well. It gives us plenty of spacing into the big one. You build in a little cushion.”

The “big one” is the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland on Nov. 5.

In Flightline’s lone other 2022 start to date, he overcame a tardy start and early adversity to win the Met Mile by six lengths on June 11. He will go into the 1 1/4-mile BC Classic having won all five of his career starts by a combined 62 3/4 lengths.

Flightline recorded a 126 Beyer Speed Figure for his Pacific Classic performance. Prior to Flightline, the highest Beyer by a Pacific Classic winner had been Candy Ride’s 123 in 2003. The Pacific Classic was first run in 1991.

The 126 Beyer for Flightline in the Pacific Classic is tied for the second-biggest figure in any race since the Beyers were first made public in 1991 (initially in the Racing Times, then in the Daily Racing Form).

Ghostzapper owns the highest Beyer Speed Figure since 1991. He recorded a 128 when he won Monmouth Park’s Philip H. Iselin Handicap at 1 1/8 miles by 10 3/4 lengths on a sloppy track in 2004. Ghostzapper then captured the BC Classic later in 2004 at Lone Star Park. His 124 Beyer in the BC Classic is tied with 1989 winner Sunday Silence for the biggest figure in the history of that race, which was first run in 1984.

According to Andy Beyer, creator of the Beyer Speed Figures, three other horses have run a 126 since 1991. All three did it in 1997. They were Formal Gold, Gentlemen and Will’s Way.

In the Pacific Classic, Flightline also received the best Thoro-Graph number in the 35 years that they have been computing those speed figures.

In terms of Beyer Speed Figures, the higher the number the better. The opposite is true for Thoro-Graph numbers.

According to Bill Finley of the Thoroughbred Daily News, Flightline’s Thoro-Graph number for the Pacific Classic was a negative 8 1/2.

The previous lowest Thoro-Graph number was Frosted’s negative 8 when he won the Met Mile at Belmont Park by 14 1/4 lengths in 1:32.73.

“You can debate his greatness, but I don’t think you can debate that race as one of the greatest performances ever by a Thoroughbred racehorse,” Sadler said to Free. “I don’t think you can debate it’s in the elite group.”

How far-reaching was Flightline’s 19 1/4-length Pacific Classic victory? It even caught the attention of Queen Elizabeth II. She called Lane’s End Farm’s Bill Farish the day after that race to discuss Flightline, according to a BloodHorse article written by Eric Mitchell.

“This was purely a conversation just because The Queen is so fascinated by racing,” said John Warren, The Queen’s bloodstock and racing manager since 2001, who initiated the call.

While Flightline has risen to superstardom in America when winning all five of his races and racing exclusively on dirt, Baaeed has done likewise in Europe when winning all 10 of his races and racing exclusively on turf.

“Because of the Baaeed story, which obviously we all have been following here [in Europe], it was fun to be able to talk about another horse, admittedly on a different surface, that was catching the American racing fraternity in the same way,” Warren said.

Farish said that The Queen “was very interested in Flightline, his history and his pedigree. It is amazing that she was still so involved. It shows how much she loved the game.”

The Queen died at the age of 96, just four days after her chat with Farish about Flightline.


Secretariat’s 1972 workout in 1:01 4/5 on Sept. 24 was the first of the four drills he had between the Sept. 16 Futurity and the Oct. 14 Champagne, according to the log of the colt’s training regimen compiled by William Nack. That log is listed in Raymond Wolfe’s book “Secretariat.” The most notable of the four works was Secretariat’s one-mile drill in 1:36 2/5 on Oct. 4.

To put that 1:36 2/5 clocking by Secretariat in a workout into perspective, when stablemate Riva Ridge won the Champagne by seven lengths a year earlier, his final time in the race was 1:36 4/5.

Secretariat finished first by two lengths in the one-mile Champagne Stakes at Belmont on Oct. 14. His final time was 1:35 flat. Stop the Music came in second. However, Secretariat was disqualified and placed second for bumping Stop the Music near the three-sixteenths marker. Stop the Music was promoted to first.

Following the Champagne, Secretariat won the 1 1/16-mile Laurel Futurity by four lengths. Stop the Music finished second. Secretariat then completed his 2-year-old campaign by registering a 3 1/2-length triumph in the Garden State Stakes.

Secretariat was voted 1972 Eclipse Awards as champion 2-year-old male and Horse of the Year. He returned in 1973 to end a 25-year Triple Crown drought and was voted 1973 Eclipse Awards as champion 3-year-old male and Horse of the Year.

Secretariat ranks second, behind only Man o’ War, on my list of the Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century to have won in North America. That list appears at the bottom of this blog.


Prior to last Saturday’s Grade I, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing, I wrote the following for Xpressbet.com: “I expect Taiba to win the Pennsylvania Derby if he’s the horse I think he is.”

Well, it turned out that Taiba is the horse I think he is.

“I still believe in Taiba,” I explained as to why I was picking him to win the 1 1/8-mile Pennsylvania Derby. “I think he is an extremely talented colt with much upside. I like the way he has trained up to the Pennsylvania Derby. He’s had seven published workouts since the Haskell, four of which were bullet drills.

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith rode Taiba again last Saturday for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Smith has been the colt’s pilot in four straight starts after Hall of Famer John Velazquez rode him in his victorious career debut at Santa Anita on March 5.

In the Pennsylvania Derby, Taiba raced close up through the early stages while saving ground alongside the inside rail. On the far turn, Taiba was racing right behind dueling leaders White Abarrio and Simplification.

Turning for home, Smith angled Taiba to the outside. Exhibiting an impressive turn of foot, Taiba advanced quickly to take the lead at the top of the lane. He then powered home to win by three emphatic lengths in 1:48.67 as the 7-5 favorite in the field of 11.

I had picked it Taiba first, Zandon second, Cyberknife third and Tawny Port fourth.

Taiba finished first, Zandon second, Cyberknife third and Tawny Port 10th.

The 50-cent trifecta paid $13.15.

Consider what has been asked of Taiba after his 7 1/2-length debut victory and 103 Beyer Speed Figure in early March. He has run in four consecutive Grade I races.

Taiba won the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 9 (first horse ever to win that race having made only one previous career start). Next, he ran 12th in the Grade I Kentucky Derby on May 7. After the Run for the Roses, he lost the Grade I Haskell Stakes by a head when second to Cyberknife on July 23. Taiba then avenged his narrow Haskell defeat when he finished 6 3/4 lengths in front of Cyberknife last Saturday.

Following Taiba’s 102 Beyer at first asking, his figures have been 102, 77, 101 and now a career-best 108 in the Pennsylvania Derby.


Below are the Beyer Speed Figures for Pennsylvania Derby winners going back to 1992 (the first year they were listed in the American Racing Manual):

2022 Taiba (108)
2021 Hot Rod Charlie (111)
2020 not run
2019 Math Wizard (99)
2018 McKinzie (107)
2017 West Coast (107)
2016 Connect (103)
2015 Frosted (106)
2014 Bayern (110)
2013 Will Take Charge (105)
2012 Handsome Mike (93)
2011 To Honor and Serve (105)
2010 Morning Line (103)
2009 Gone Astray (104)
2008 Anak Nakal (100)
2007 Timber Reserve (105)
2006 not run
2005 Sun King (103)
2004 Love of Money (112)
2003 Grand Hombre (108)
2002 Harlan’s Holiday (96)
2001 Macho Uno (104)
2000 Pine Dance (105)
1999 Smart Guy (109)
1998 Rock and Roll (110)
1997 Frisk Me Now (114)
1996 Devil’s Honor (114)
1995 Pineing Patty (108)
1994 Meadow Flight (106)
1993 Wallenda (100)
1992 Thelastcrusade (107)


Taiba was part of an extraordinary feat last Saturday by his sire, 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner.

Gun Runner was the sire of five stakes winners last Saturday. Two of the five victories came in Grade I races. Besides Taiba’s Grade I win in the Pennsylvania Derby, Society “ran them off their feet,” as they say, when she won Parx’s Grade I, $1 million Cotillion by 5 3/4 lengths in front-running fashion at 7-1 Saturday.

The other three stakes winners last Saturday sired by Gun Runner were Echo Zulu in the Grade III Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs, Gunite in Churchill’s Harrods Creek Stakes and Sixtythreecaliber in Churchill’s Seneca Stakes.

Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, who trained Gun Runner, conditions Society, Echo Zulu and Gunite. Echo Zulu was the Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old filly of 2021.

Winchell Thoroughbreds shares ownership of Gun Runner with Three Chimneys Farm. Gun Runner stands at Three Chimneys.

“I have never seen anything like it,” Winchell Thoroughbreds racing manager David Fiske said of Gun Runner being represented by five stakes winners in one day in a BloodHorse article written by Joe Perez. “And neither has anybody else.”


As mentioned above, Sixtythreecaliber won a race at Churchill Downs last Saturday called the Seneca Stakes. This brought to mind something unusual that I witnessed at Louisiana Downs in 1980.

Racing secretary Bennett Parke carded the Seneca Stakes for Louisiana-bred fillies and mares on the turf to be run on July 5. Greenback Gert, ridden by Randy Romero, won it. But then Parke carded that same stakes race again on Aug. 23. When I asked Parke about it, he admitted that he simply had goofed. And so it turned out that Annie Christmas, with Marvin Holland aboard, won another running of the Seneca Stakes at the same 1980 Louisiana Downs meet.

By the way, it was at that 1980 Louisiana Downs meet that I saw Temperence Hill win the inaugural running of the $500,000 Super Derby. How big was that purse in 1980? It made the Super Derby the richest 3-year-old race in the world. The purse for the 1980 Kentucky Derby, won by the filly Genuine Risk, was $346,800. When adjusted for inflation, the $500,000 Super Derby purse in 1980 would be almost $1.8 million today.

The Super Derby for many years was one of the nation’s most important races for 3-year-olds. In addition to Temperence Hill, it was won by such sophomores as Sunny’s Halo, Gate Dancer, Creme Fraiche, Alysheba, Seeking the Gold, Sunday Silence, Soul of the Matter and Tiznow.

Sadly, Louisiana Downs managed to wreck the Super Derby, allowing it to become a shell of its former self. It hasn’t even been run since 2019.

What has happened is the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby, which Parx has done a splendid job with, has essentially taken the place of the Super Derby on the national racing calendar.


The Top 10 for this week is below:

Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)

1. 350 Flightline (35)
2. 308 Life Is Good
3. 253 Epicenter
4. 190 Nest
5. 186 Olympiad
6. 133 Jackie’s Warrior
7. 107 Taiba
8. 83 Country Grammer
9. 73 Malathaat
10. 50 Jack Christopher


The Top 10 for this week is below:

Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)

1. 340 Flightline (34)
2. 281 Life Is Good
3. 266 Epicenter
4. 214 Olympiad
5. 199 Taiba
6. 167 Country Grammer
7. 118 Hot Rod Charlie
8. 69 Happy Saver
9. 54 Cyvberknife
10. 48 Americanrevolution


Years ago for Xpressbet.com, I came up with my list of the Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century to have won in North America. I have tweaked the list from time to time. The inspiration was BloodHorse’s Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century.

I also recently came up with a list of the Top 100 Racehorses (active horses only) of the 21st Century so far to have won in North America.

While Landaluce was absent from BloodHorse’s Top 100, I put her at No. 75. But after taking another look at the extremely talented filly in Mary Perdue’s new book “Landaluce: The Story of Seattle Slew’s First Champion,” and after I recently wrote about Landaluce for Xpressbet.com, I concluded that by ranking her No. 75, I wasn’t giving Landaluce nearly enough credit that I now think she deserves.

Landaluce won her five career races by a combined 46 1/2 lengths and drew comparisons to the legendary Ruffian. I have decided to move her all the way up to No. 34 on my Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century

It so happens that Landaluce is just one of a number of female Thoroughbreds who raced in the 20th century that I have given much more respect to than BloodHorse did in its Top 100.

BloodHorse had the great Ruffian ranked No. 35. I have her all the way up at No. 11.

Personal Ensign was ranked No. 48 by BloodHorse. I have her No. 33.

BloodHorse put All Along at No. 68. I have her No. 35.

Regret was ranked No. 71 by BloodHorse. I have her No. 23.

Pan Zareta, like Landaluce, did not make BloodHorse’s Top 100. I have her No. 50.

BloodHorse has Ta Wee ranked No. 80. I have her No. 62.

Genuine Risk was ranked No. 91 by BloodHorse. I have her No. 74.

Inside Information and Princess Rooney are two more distaffers missing from BloodHorse’s Top 100. I have Inside Information No. 67, Princess Rooney No. 88.

Below is my list of the Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century to have won in North America (in parentheses, when applicable, is where the horse ranked on BloodHorse’s list of the Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century):

1. Man o’ War (1)
2. Secretariat* (2)
3. Citation* (3)
4. Kelso (4)
5. Spectacular Bid (10)
6. Native Dancer (7)
7. Dr. Fager (6)
8. Seattle Slew* (9)
9. Count Fleet* (5)
10. Affirmed* (12)
11. Ruffian (35)
12. Swaps (20)
13. Forego (8)
14. Phar Lap (22)
15. Buckpasser (14)
16. Damascus (16)
17. Round Table (17)
18. Seabiscuit (25)
19. War Admiral* (13)
20. Tom Fool (11)
21. Colin (15)
22. John Henry (23)
23. Regret (71)
24. Exterminator (29)
25. Whirlaway* (26)
26. Sunday Silence (31)
27. Cigar (18)
28. Nashua (24)
29. Alydar (27)
30. Easy Goer (34)
31. Alysheba (42)
32. Bold Ruler (19)
33. Personal Ensign (48)
34. Landaluce
35. All Along (68)
36. Equipoise (21)
37. Gallant Fox* (28)
38. Sysonby (30)
39. Gallant Man (36)
40. Assault* (33)
41. Armed (39)
42. Sir Barton* (49)
43. Northern Dancer (43)
44. Omaha* (61)
45. Ack Ack (44)
46. Discovery (37)
47. Majestic Prince (46)
48. Arts and Letters (67)
49. Stymie (41)
50. Pan Zareta
51. Challedon (38)
52. Noor (69)
53. Busher (40)
54. Gallorette (45)
55. Coaltown (47)
56. Sword Dancer (53)
57. Riva Ridge (57)
58. Grey Lag (54)
59. Devil Diver (55)
60. Dahlia (50)
61. Zev (56)
62. Ta Wee (80)
63. Twilight Tear (59)
64. Native Diver (60)
65. Holy Bull (64)
66. Precisionist
67. Inside Information
68. Shuvee (70)
69. Twenty Grand (52)
70. Skip Away (32)
71. Sham
72. Alsab (65)
73. Lady’s Secret (76)
74. Genuine Risk (91)
75. A.P. Indy
76. Silver Charm (63)
77. Susan’s Girl (51)
78. Cicada (62)
79. Go for Wand (72)
80. Slew o’ Gold (58)
81. Bald Eagle (74)
82. Exceller (96)
83. Tim Tam
84. Top Flight (66)
85. Manila
86. Johnstown (73)
87. Lure (85)
88. Princess Rooney
89. Two Lea (77)
90. Gallant Bloom (79)
91. Miesque (82)
92. Eight Thirty (78)
93. Fort Marcy (86)
94. Hoist the Flag
95. Cougar II
96. Gamely (87)
97. Carry Back (83)
98. Ancient Title
99. Bayakoa (95)
100. Formal Gold

*Triple Crown winner

Below is my list of the Top 100 racehorses of the 21st century so far to have won in North America (active horses excluded):

1. American Pharoah*
2. Zenyatta
3. Arrogate
4. Rachel Alexandra
5. Curlin
6. Ghostzapper
7. Justify*
8. Shared Belief
9. California Chrome
10. Tiznow
11. Gun Runner
12. Invasor
13. Wise Dan
14. Goldikova
15. Point Given
16. Beholder
17. Enable
18. Barbaro
19. Smarty Jones
20. Bernardini
21. Azeri
22. Lava Man
23. Bricks and Mortar
24. Rags to Riches
25. Candy Ride
26. Blame
27. Pleasantly Perfect
28. Kona Gold
29. Mineshaft
30. Saint Liam
31. Intercontinental
32. Ouija Board
33. Knicks Go
34. Authentic
35. Tepin
36. Essential Quality
37. Afleet Alex
38. Songbird
39. Monomoy Girl
40. Xtra Heat
41. Game On Dude
42. Mucho Macho Man
43. Empire Maker
44. Congaree
45. Conduit
46. I’ll Have Another
47. Kitten’s Joy
48. Roses in May
49. Blind Luck
50. Havre de Grace
51. Royal Delta
52. Big Brown
53. Lost in the Fog
54. Midnight Bisou
55. Cape Blanco
56. Gio Ponti
57. Lookin At Lucky
58. English Channel
59. Medaglia d’Oro
60. Tiz the Law
61. Midnight Lute
62. Street Sense
63. Discreet Cat
64. Lawyer Ron
65. Nyquist
66. Ashado
67. Monarchos
68. Quality Road
69. Fantastic Light
70. Flintshire
71. High Chaparral
72. Lady Eli
73. Funny Cide
74. Rock Hard Ten
75. Raven’s Pass
76. Maximum Security
77. Frosted
78. Gamine
79. Unique Bella
80. Uncle Mo
81. City of Light
82. Accelerate
83. Mitole
84. Groupie Doll
85. Lemon Drop Kid
86. Runhappy
87. Aptitude
88. Commentator
89. Lido Palace
90. Sightseek
91. Surfside
92. Sistercharlie
93. Fort Larned
94. Street Cry
95. Left Bank
96. Vino Rosso
97. Animal Kingdom
98. Roy H
99. Honor Code
100. Indian Blessing

*Triple Crown winner