Is Flightline the Next Secretariat?

Flightline winning the Pacific Classic

After Flightline cantered home 19 1/4 lengths ahead of the field in last Saturday’s Pacific Classic at Del Mar, comparisons are being made to Secretariat. Four-year old Flightline is undefeated in five starts, and won every time by a combined margin of 62 3/4 lengths. After the Pacific, he was awarded a Beyer speed figure of 126 – the second-highest in 31 years. The Pacific Classic is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race, with this win, Flightline clinched a fees-paid berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland in Kentucky in early November.

“I told Johnny [Velazquez], don’t chase that horse he’s (Flightline) a really great horse; if you chase you won’t get anything. I wanted to run at least second to him. We got beat by an incredible horse; it was nice to see the crowd clapping for him and it was fun watching the performance even as a competing trainer; it’s something you don’t see every day. I knew my horse was going to show up, he was doing well and he didn’t chase the horse and he just got beat by a brilliant horse today.”

Bob Baffert, trainer of Country Grammar

What’s a Beyer speed figure? A horse’s pure speed. It how fast a horse has run in each of his starts.

FlightlineDMR03 Sep1 1/4M126
EpicenterSAR27 Aug1 1/4M112
OlympiadCD02 Jul1 1/8M111
Life Is GoodGP29 Jan1 1/8M110
AmericanrevolutionCD02 Jul1 1/8M108
Stilleto BoySA30 Apr1 1/8M108
Life Is GoodSAR06 Aug1 1/8M107
ClairiereBEL11 Jun1 1/16M106
Express TrainSA30 Apr1 1/8M106
MalathaatBEL11 Jun1 1/16M106
MandalounFG22 Jan1 1/16M106
CyberknifeSAR27 Aug1 1/4M105
Early VotingPIM21 May1 3/16M105
Current Beyer Speed Ratings for distances over a mile on the Main Track: Source DRF

The winning figure for a race is based on three factors: the final time, the distance, and the inherent speed of the track (a calculation known as the track variant.) For losing horses, points are deducted according the lengths behind the winner and the distance of the race. Beyer’s team has calculated “par” times for various class levels and distances. After averaging final times for a specific card, the team determines how much slower or faster than par a racetrack was on a particular day. That number, called the Track Variant, is subtracted or added to the Speed Rating to determine the Beyer Speed Figure.

Flightline won the Pacific Classic by 19 1/2 lengths.

But is a high Beyer speed rating and 5 wins enough to bring Flightline up to Secretariat status? In the Pacific Classic, Flightline beat Country Grammar, winner of the Dubai world Cup, who also finished second in the Derby, but that’s the best quality horse he’s raced against to date. It will be interesting to see how he runs in the Breeder’s Cup and if he races as a 5 year old. He certainly is a fun horse to watch run.

4 thoughts on “Is Flightline the Next Secretariat?

  1. Oh my stars, what a horse. Where have I seen this before? Oh, yeah. 1973 Belmont with Secretariat leaving everyone behind 30 lengths. What a horse! (Both of them!)

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