Undefeated Flightline leads group of nine pre-entered in BC Classic

Flightline walks the shedrow after arriving at Keeneland on Sunday, Oct. 23 for the Nov. 5 Breeders' Cup Classic.

Flightline walks the shedrow after arriving at Keeneland on Sunday, Oct. 23 for the Nov. 5 Breeders' Cup Classic.

HORSE RACING – Steve Asmussen has been the trainer of record for more career victories in North American Thoroughbred racing than anybody in history.

He’s also has had his share of defeats, sometimes even with horses who went off at incredibly short odds, like when Jackie’s Warrior lost the Forego at Saratoga Race Course two months ago as the 1-9 betting favorite.

So he speaks from experience when he said on Oct. 16, “Horses’ reputations don’t win races. You have all the opinion you want, but the truth is, you’ve got to do it again when it matters.”

That said, there is no doubt that the reputation that precedes Flightline’s appearance in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 5 is not only mind-bogglingly impressive, but also well-deserved.

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The John Sadler-trained Flightline was among nine horses listed as candidates for the showcase race of the 39th Breeders’ Cup weekend, to be held at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky.

The Breeders’ Cup announced its pre-entries on Wednesday and will finalize the fields for 14 races during the post-position draw at Rupp Arena on the University of Kentucky campus at 2:45 p.m. on Monday.

Nov. 4 is designated as “Future Stars Friday” and will feature five races restricted to 2-year-olds. The Classic will cap a slate of nine BC races on Nov. 5 for a total of 14 worth over a combined $31 million in purses.

The 4-year-old Flightline has raced just five times in his career, but has won all five by a combined 62 3/4 lengths while never having been sent off at higher than 4-5 odds by the betting public. New York Racing Association oddsmaker David Aragona made Flightline the 3-5 BC Classic favorite for the Daily Racing Form after the pre-entries came out.

And that’s against a stellar field of rivals that includes Whitney and Woodward winner Life Is Good; the Asmussen-trained Travers winner Epicenter; Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike; Olympiad; Hot Rod Charlie; Taiba; Cyberknife; and Happy Saver.

In the corresponding BC dirt route race for fillies and mares, the BC Distaff field will feature Malathaat against Clairiere, but they’ll be hard-pressed to hold off Nest, by far the leading 3-year-old filly in North America.

She posted impressive wins at Saratoga in the Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama, followed by a victory by almost 10 lengths in the Beldame, her first start against older horses.

Starting Friday, FanDuel TV will broadcast “Breakfast at the Breeders’ Cup from 7-10 a.m. each day, which will include coverage of workouts at Keeneland and race analysis.

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The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame will host its annual Countdown to the Breeders’ Cup preview program at noon Saturday, with racing experts Jeff Carle and Michael Veitch providing analysis and predictions for each race.

The program is included with paid admission for those who are not Museum members and will include drawings for prize packages such as wine baskets and Museum memberships.

Carle, who served as a public handicapper for the Daily Gazette during this summer’s Saratoga Race Course meet, is a former jockey and trainer who has appeared on a variety of Capital OTB programs.

Veitch covered racing for the Saratogian and serves as chairman of the Museum’s Hall of Fame Historic Review Committee and as a member of the Museum’s Hall of Fame Nominating Committee. He is a former co-host of Capital OTB’s “Down the Stretch” and has written four books about Saratoga racing history.

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