Flightline, Curlin Star at the Eclipse Awards

Having just last week been crowned the Longines World’s Best Racehorse in London, TDN Rising StarFlightline (Tapit) was named America’s no-doubt-about-it Horse of the Year and champion dirt male at the Eclipse Awards, held Thursday evening at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida.

Bred in Kentucky by Jane Lyon’s Summer Wind Equine, Flightline was a $1-million purchase out of the 2019 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale, didn’t start as a juvenile and didn’t get to a starting gate until April of his 3-year-old season.

The negatives end right about there.

In a spectacular six-race stretch over the course of the following 19 months, Flightline never earned a Beyer Speed Figure inferior to his debut 105 and never started at odds longer than 90 cents on the dollar while winning those half-dozen contests (or, no-contests) by an average of just under 12 lengths. That included a breathtaking 19 1/4-length romp in the GI TVG Pacific Classic, good for a 126 Beyer Speed Figure, a performance that was difficult to put in any real context. His victory in the GI Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic came at the expense of fellow dirt male finalist Olympiad (Speightstown) after the third divisional finalist, the freakishly fast Rising StarLife Is Good (Into Mischief), capitulated after taking it to Flightline for the opening mile. The Horse of the Year begins his second career as one of the most sought-after stallion prospects in recent memory this winter at Lane’s End.

Speaking of superstar sires, Curlin–himself Horse of the Year in 2007 and again in 2008–was represented by a sensational three Eclipse Award winners Thursday from the 10 flat divisions. TDN Rising Star‘ Malathaat and stablemate Nest, each trained by Eclipse Award-winning conditioner Todd Pletcher, took home the hardware in the older dirt female and 3-year-old filly categories, respectively. Elite Power was a somewhat surprising winner of the male sprint Eclipse courtesy of his success in the GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint, while GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile hero Cody’s Wish completed a Curlin exacta in the division.

John Sikura’s Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm celebrated a banner evening Thursday, as the nursery’s stallions accounted for half the night’s flat winners. In addition to the Curlin trio,TDN Rising Star‘ Forte (Violence) was a near-unanimous winner of the 2-year-old male Eclipse Award, while Ghostzapper‘s Goodnight Olive parlayed victories in the GI Ballerina S. and GI Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint into a statuette of her own.

The hotly contested 3-year-old divisional honors went to GI Runhappy Travers S. hero Epicenter, providing Taylor Made’s Not This Time with his first U.S. champion, while 2-year-old Wonder Wheel (Into Mischief) gave her all-conquering sire another champion in providing the Green Family’s D J Stable with a second such title.

Modern Games (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) sewed up the male turf Eclipse with his dominating performance in the GI Breeders’ Cup Mile for Godolphin, who was named outstanding owner and breeder. In the other human categories, Irad Ortiz, Jr. was crowned outstanding jockey and Jose Antonio Gomez champion apprentice.

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