Fractional interest in Flightline sells for $4.6 million

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Keeneland says a 2.5% fractional interest in Breeders’ Cup Classic champion Flightline has sold for $4.6 million during a special auction before the start of its November Breeding Stock Sale.

Brookdale Farm’s Freddy Seitz signed the ticket for an undisclosed client, the track announced in a release. The sale comes a day after ownership of the 4-year-old son of Tapit retired the unbeaten colt following his record 8\-length victory in Saturday’s $6 million, Grade 1 Classic at Keeneland. Flightline likely locked up Horse of the Year honors with his fourth Grade 1 victory in six starts by a combined victory margin of 71 lengths – dominance that has drawn comparisons to legendary Triple Crown champion Secretariat.

Flightline will begin his breeding career next year at Lane’s End Farms in Versailles, Kentucky, but a stud fee has yet to be determined. West Point Thoroughbreds, part of the bay colt’s ownership, offered the fractional interest. Seitz said the buyer wanted to “make a big splash” and get more involved in the business.

“With a special horse like (Flightline) all you can do is get involved and then just hope for the best,” Seitz said in the release.

“There has never been a horse that has done what he has done for however many years, back to Secretariat. You just have to pay up and get involved, and this is kind of what he’s thinking.”

Appeals court strikes down federal horseracing rules act

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NEW ORLEANS — Congress unconstitutionally gave too much power to a nonprofit authority it created in 2020 to develop and enforce horseracing rules, a federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled Friday.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, or HISA, is “facially unconstitutional.”

The authority created by the act was meant to bring uniform policies and enforcement to horseracing amid doping scandals and racetrack horse deaths. But the 5th Circuit – in two rulings issued Friday – ruled in favor of opponents of the act in lawsuits brought by horseracing associations and state officials in Texas, Louisiana and West Virginia.

The Federal Trade Commission has the ultimate authority to approve or reject HISA regulations, but it can’t modify them. And the authority can reject proposed modifications.

Three 5th Circuit judges agreed with opponents of the act – including the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and similar groups in multiple states – that the setup gave too much power to the nongovernmental authority and too little to the FTC.

“A cardinal constitutional principle is that federal power can be wielded only by the federal government. Private entities may do so only if they are subordinate to an agency,” Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan wrote for the panel that ruled in the Texas case.

The same panel, which also included judges Carolyn Dineen King and Kurt Engelhardt, cited the Texas ruling in a separate order in favor of horseracing interests and regulators challenging HISA in a different case.

The chair of the horseracing authority’s board of directors said it would ask for further court review. Friday’s ruling could be appealed to the full 5th Circuit court of the Supreme Court.

“If today’s ruling were to stand, it would not go into effect until January 10, 2023 at the earliest,” Charles Scheeler said in an email. “We are focused on continuing our critical work to protect the safety and integrity of Thoroughbred racing, including the launch of HISA’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program on January 1, 2023.”

The ruling was criticized by Marty Irby, executive director of the Animal Wellness Action organization. “Over the course of three Congresses, the most brilliant legal minds on Capitol Hill addressed the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act’s constitutionality and ultimately decided that the Federal Trade Commission’s limited oversight was sufficient,” Irby said in an email.

Among the subjects covered by the authority’s rules and enforcement were jockey safety (including a national concussion protocol), the riding crop and how often riders can use it during a race, racetrack accreditation, and the reporting of training and veterinary records.

Animal rights groups, who supported the law, pointed to scandals in the industry involving medication and the treatment of horses.

Duncan wrote that in declaring HISA unconstitutional, “we do not question Congress’s judgment about problems in the horseracing industry. That political call falls outside our lane.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, hailed the ruling on Twitter, calling HISA a “federal takeover of Louisiana horse racing.”

Unbeaten Flightline retires, will begin breeding career

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Flightline has been retired and will stand at stud after completing a dominant, unbeaten career capped by a runaway victory in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland.

The son of Tapit will begin his breeding career next year at the farm in Versailles, Kentucky, Lane’s End Farms announced in a news release Sunday morning.

The 4-year-old bay colt won the 1\-mile, Grade 1 Classic by a record 8\ lengths as the 2-5 favorite to cap a 6-0 thoroughbred career. His time of 2:00.05 was just a tick off Authentic’s time of 1:59.60 two years ago.

Flightline was virtually unknown until his 19\-length victory in September’s Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar. His combined victory margin of 62} lengths entering the season-ending championships soon drew a lot of attention – along with comparisons to legendary Triple Crown winner Secretariat.

Trainer John Sadler’s pupil lived up to the hype in the biggest race of his career, starting from the No. 4 post. He and Todd Pletcher-trained Life Is Good (8-1) soon jetted away from six other horses at a blistering pace to form their own match race through the far turn.

By then, Flightline had begun reeling in Life Is Good, drawing even as they turned for home and taking off from there.

“Brilliant is his normal,” Sadler said afterward. “He didn’t disappoint, and never has. … He’s just a remarkable, remarkable horse.”

Flightline earned $3.12 million with the Classic win to increase his career total to $4.514 million. He all but solidified his stock as Horse of the Year when the Eclipse Awards are announced in January.

Flightline’s ownership syndicate, comprised of five groups, has yet to determine a stud fee. A 2.5% fractional interest in Flightline will be auctioned on Monday at Keeneland ahead of the track’s November Breeding Stock Sale.

“We would like to thank trainer John Sadler and his team for the incredible work they did with Flightline,” Lane’s End’s Bill Farish said. “His historic performances are a credit to their expertise and unwavering efforts to bring out the very best in the horse.”

The announcement quickly answered the post-race question about whether Flightline would follow up his Classic win with competition as a 5-year-old or head straight to the breeding barn.

The horse was especially peppy early Sunday morning at Keeneland, alternating between chomping on his feed and bobbing his head up and down as onlookers snapped photos.

“We came. We saw and we conquered,” Sadler said, adding that Flightline will spend a few days there and have a showing at Lane’s End.

Flightline won the Classic race before a capacity crowd of 45,973 just two years after the previous Breeders’ Cup was held without spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Breeders’ Cup generated a record $189,060,373 handle from all sources, a 3.4% increase over last year at Del Mar. Keeneland’s on-track handle was $28,326,478 for the two days.

Ryan Moore won the Bill Shoemaker Award as the Breeders’ Cup’s top jockey with three wins, including Filly and Mare Turf aboard Tuesday. He also had three seconds. Irad Ortiz Jr. also had three wins but one runner-up finish.

Trainers Charlie Appleby and Aidan O’Brien each won three races, with Appleby achieving that mark for the second consecutive year.

Also Sunday, trainer Steve Asmussen said Epicenter was resting in his stall after undergoing surgery to repair a lateral condylar fracture of his right front.

Jockey Joel Rosario pulled up the 5-1 second choice on the backstretch in the Classic and he was taken to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital. Asmussen said veterinarian Larry Bramlage inserted two screws to stabilize the injury.

“Dr. Bramlage and the Rood and Riddle team are very happy with how the surgery went and the prognosis is excellent for him to be a healthy sire,” Asmussen added.