Bob Baffert on Sensational Flightline: ”He’s Pharoah at 4”

November 2, 2022

Flightline gallops at Keeneland Nov. 2 (Coady Photography)

By Amber Joyce

LEXINGTON, Ky.— In 2015, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert brought Triple Crown hero American Pharoah to Keeneland and won the Breeders’ Cup Classic. When the World Championships returned to Keeneland five years later, in 2020, Baffert won the Classic again, with that year’s Kentucky Derby-winning Authentic. This year Baffert returns to Keeneland to vie for a record fifth win in the Classic with G1 Pennsylvania Derby victor Taiba.

But Taiba won’t be favored like American Pharoah or as talked about as Authentic when they stamped their names in Breeders’ Cup history. Enter Flightline, the horse the whole world has its eyes on, the horse that even has some dubbing this year’s $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic “The Flightline Invitational”.

When asked about the Classic and going up against the undefeated, stellar 19 ¼ length winner of the G1 TVG Pacific Classic, Baffert gave what might be one of the greatest compliments a horse could receive. “I know how people felt when they ran against American Pharaoh,” he said.

“I know what they felt like because he [Flightline]- he’s Pharoah at 4.”

“He just moves like him, he’s just an extraordinary horse,” he went on to say. “He just moves over the ground, and when he takes off, he just takes off.”

“The thing is, the only way a horse like that gets beat is racing luck.”

Baffert also sends out a slew of other horses, Cave Rock and National Treasure in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, track record-setting Speed Boat Beach in the Juvenile Turf Sprint, and Laurel River in the Dirt Mile. While Baffert thinks that he has a good chance of winning with some of them, Taiba doesn’t make the list. “Some of these horses I feel I have a really good chance of winning with, but with him [Taiba], I’m just- you know, if I can run second or third.”

Taiba gallops at Keeneland Nov. 2 (Coady Photography)

“The pace makes the race, you know, the break’s gotta be- I ended up in the one hole there. Taiba, he breaks really well. He breaks like he’s gonna go to the lead, then all of a sudden he falls back, and hopefully, uh- he likes to run at a target.”

With a laugh, Baffert added, “I just hope he can see his target.”

Taiba will also have to contend with the exceptionally talented Life is Good, who Baffert trained before the colt was transferred to the Todd Pletcher barn in 2021. “Life Is Good, I’ve had him, he’s extremely talented too. He’s a fast horse,” Baffert said about his ex-trainee, who looks to add a second Breeders’ Cup win to his resume, having won last year’s edition of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Del Mar.

Others Taiba will have to face include this year’s Kentucky Derby shocker Rich Strike and Derby runner-up Epicenter, who won the Travers this summer. The three-year-old will also meet Olympiad, recent winner of the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, as well as the gutsy Hot Rod Charlie, who enters the Classic off of a gallant win over Rich Strike in the G2 Lukas Classic. The eldest horse in the Classic at five, Grade 1 winner Happy Saver rounds out the field.

Watch Baffert’s interview with the Kentucky HBPA below:

@jonathanstettin anytime chief, you always giving back so its only right!!

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