Flightline Tops List of Nominees for TVG Pacific Classic

August 26, 2022

DEL MAR, Calif.— Nominations for this year’s $1 million, G1 TVG Pacific Classic were released Friday with some expected names and one intriguing surprise. A total of nine horses were nominated for the Classic, which will be run for the 32nd time on September 3.

Topping the list is Hronis Racing, et al’s Flightline, the undefeated son of Tapit who has been very impressive in the mornings leading up to the race, not to mention in the afternoons when he does race.

“Couldn’t be happier,” trainer John Sadler says. “He’ll have a little soft work (Saturday) and then he’s ready to go.”

In his last work at Del Mar on August 20, Flightline clicked off fractions of :12.20, :35.20, :47.40; and 1:11.40 before stopping the clock on the seven furlong work in 1:24.00. ‘Effortless’ seemed to be the consensus of those watching the work as he glided by the grandstand.

What may surprise some is the fact that Flightline didn’t appear to scare off many potential rivals from running in the TVG Pacific Classic. Trainer Dick Mandella went so far as to nominate three of his horses to the race though he may run one of them, MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm’s Tizamagician, on the grass in one of the Graded stakes on the Pacific Classic undercard.

“We’re pointing him to the Del Mar Handicap,” Mandella said, “though we may still decide to run him in the Pacific Classic.”

Royal Ship after his Grade 2 San Diego victory (Benoit Photo)

Mandella’s other nominees are Fox Hill Farms and Sienna Farm’s Royal Ship, winner of the G2 San Diego at Del Mar last month and Jay Em Ess Stable’s Extra Hope, who finished third in the G3 Cougar II on opening weekend at Del Mar.

If there is one trainer who isn’t phased by a heavy favorite in the Pacific Classic it would be Richard Mandella. The Hall of Fame conditioner brought Dare And Go to the Classic in 1996 when Cigar shipped in riding a 16-race win streak and was odds-on to set the North American record for consecutive victories. Dare And Go won that day, shocking the racing world.

“Can’t win if you ain’t in,” Mandella says.

Trainer Bob Baffert has made his intentions known all along that he was bringing Commonwealth Thoroughbreds, et al’s Country Grammer to the TVG Pacific Classic. The Dubai World Cup winner used the San Diego as a prep after a four-month layoff to recover from the trip to the Middle East (he raced twice there, winning the Dubai World Cup in his second effort), often a tough ordeal for horses shipping from the U.S. Country Grammer ran second in the San Diego.

Baffert has the utmost respect for Flightline, even paid him the highest of compliments, but that won’t stop him from running against him in the TVG Pacific Classic.

“You can’t be afraid of one horse,” Baffert says. “He’s an exceptional horse, I’ve watched him train. I haven’t seen a horse like that since American Pharoah and another good horse that I had, Arrogate. He’s that type of caliber of horse.”

What comes as a surprise to the list of nominees for the TVG Pacific Classic is the inclusion of Zedan Racing Stable’s Taiba from the Baffert barn. The 3-year-old son of Gun Runner has been training at Del Mar since returning from his runner-up finish to Cyberknife in the G1 Haskell at Monmouth Park last month. He posted a six-furlong bullet work on August 20.

Express Train wins the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap (Benoit Photo)

C R K Stable’s Express Train is another horse with impressive credentials nominated to the TVG Pacific Classic. The son of Union Rags won three in a row to start the year, including the G1 Santa Anita Handicap, giving trainer John Shirreffs his first Big ‘Cap victory. He hasn’t raced since his runner-up finish to Stilleto Boy in the G2 Californian at Santa Anita in April.

Steve Moger’s Stilleto Boy is another one nominated for the TVG Pacific Classic. He’s been keeping company with all the big boys on the west coast and always gives a good account of himself.

In addition to Flightline, Sadler has nominated Hronis Racing’s Heywoods Beach, winner of the G3 Cougar II at Del Mar.

The post position draw for the G1 TVG Pacific Classic will be held Tuesday afternoon, August 30 at approximately 4 P.M.

DMTC Press Release

Photo: Flightline (Benoit Photo)

@jonathanstettin great read as always!

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