Mayberry Farm's Stars of Today and Tomorrow

April Mayberry shares stories of Mayberry Farm graduate and talented Grade I winner Flightline Benoit 

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Flightline (Tapit) showed that he was fast from the start with his 13 1/4-length, 'TDN Rising Star'-worthy debut, but he proved his status as an elite talent in his most recent jaw-dropping performance when he passed the wire on cruise control in the GI Runhappy Malibu S., winning by 11 ½ lengths and earning a 118 Beyer speed figure.

The impressive colt's ownership group of Hronis Racing, Siena Farm, Summer Wind Equine, West Point Thoroughbreds and Woodford Racing has undoubtedly spent much of this new year celebrating their star's unforgettable sophomore season while waiting in anticipation for his next start.

Meanwhile another one of Flightline's connections is also looking forward to what the colt could accomplish in 2022 while reminiscing on the impact he made during his short time with her.

April Mayberry, whose Mayberry Farm broke and trained the son of Tapit, has watched with pride as Flightline displayed the extraordinary talent she always thought he could have.

“It gives me chills to watch him,” Mayberry said. “To think that you were one of the first people to think that ability was in there and then to see it come true is a really cool feeling.”

Flightline arrived at Mayberry Farm in 2019 after selling to West Point Thoroughbreds for $1 million at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale.

“When he first came in, he was such an impressive-looking horse,” Mayberry recalled. “He was already 16 hands. When we started the breaking process, it crossed my mind that maybe he had already been started because he was so quiet. Everything he did was easy. He came like a ready-made horse. There was no learning curve with him because he already knew it all somehow.”

Mayberry said the young colt had a certain air about him suggesting that he already had an idea of just how special he was. She recalled how he would stop by the clocker's stand each morning before heading back to the barn after a workout so that he could pose for any onlookers.

“He was one of those horses, and there have only been a few in my lifetime, where if they ever started speaking to you, you would just answer them,” she said. “It wouldn't be like, 'Wow this horse is talking to me.' You would just answer him. He was that kind of horse–super intelligent and classy in everything he did.”

$1.7 million City of Light colt out of Anchorage | Katie Petrunyak

While Mayberry noticed the bay's clever personality from the start, it wasn't until he started breezing that she knew his ability was outstanding as well.

“I always thought that he was probably a really nice horse, but the first day we kind of let him pick it up a little bit, that sealed the deal,” she said.

Shortly after Flightline began breezing, agent David Ingordo dropped in for a visit. Mayberry remembers standing trackside and waiting for Flightline to appear when they heard a commotion coming from the barn.

“David and I went back to the barn to see what the holdup was and found that Flightline had decided to cut his hind end on the stall door,” Mayberry explained. “It was a take-your-breath-away, what-are-we-going-to-do injury, but we were pretty sure everything was going to be fine after the vet came and stitched him up.”

For weeks, the Mayberry Farm team tended to Flightline's injury daily and looked after the colt through long days of stall rest.

“This horse never turned a hair,” Mayberry recalled. “A lot of times with injuries in horses, a lot is up to the horse in whether they're a good patient or not. That's a big part of the battle. But he knew everyone was there to help him.”

After two months, the injury had healed and Flightline returned to training as if he had never had a day off. With an almost-imperceptible scar on his hind end, Flightline was sent to John Sadler and thrived in his training there just as he had in Ocala.

While the team at Mayberry missed their talented prodigy after he shipped out California, it wasn't long before his spot was filled by another colt who stepped onto the farm with similarly-high expectations ahead of him.

Last fall, a City of Light yearling arrived in Ocala and, in a situation that was purely happenstance according to Mayberry, was given the very same stall that Flightline once occupied.

This young colt out of the stakes-placed Tapit mare Anchorage was the 2021 Keeneland September Sale topper, purchased by Woodford Racing, Talla Racing and West Point Thoroughbreds for $1.7 million.

“He is another one where he's just a cool dude,” Mayberry said. “He's extremely classy and quiet. He takes a nap every day and does everything you ask of him. He has all the qualities that I as a trainer would like to see in a horse moving forward.”

Mayberry Farm has three more newly-turned 2-year-olds who were purchased by partnerships that include West Point Thoroughbreds. They have a second City of Light juvenile, this one a filly out of Miss Mo Kelly (Congrats) purchased for $500,000, as well as two Justify colts–one out of Flaming Heart (Touch Gold) purchased for $675,000 and the other, a son of stakes producer True Feelings (Latent Heat), was the third highest-priced yearling of the 2021 Keeneland September Sale, selling to Talla Racing and West Point Thoroughbreds for $1.55 million.

“The True Feelings colt was a little peppier in his step at first,” Mayberry said. “He was very full of himself and was very confident. Once he was broke and got on the track, he really calmed down and looks like he enjoys his training.”

Mayberry said that over the years, she has learned that the key to bringing up these young horses is to make sure they are enjoying their job.

Justify-Flaming-Heart-colt_print_photo-courtesy-Mayberry-Farm-1.jpg" alt="" width="731" height="532" /> April Mayberry and the Justify colt out of Flaming Heart | Katie Petrunyak

“Our philosophy is that we let the horse tell us,” she explained. “If you listen, they'll let you know what they need. I think the happier they are, the more they'll do for you. If we can make everything easy for them, the rest falls into place like it's supposed to.”

April Mayberry, a fourth-generation horsewoman, runs Mayberry Farm alongside her mother Jeanne and sister Summer. The farm opened in 2000 and since then, their list of superstar graduates has turned into more of a book.

Their first big name was champion Zenyatta, who Mayberry describes as independent, intelligent and a filly that was driven by both sleep and snacks. The 2010 Horse of the Year was soon followed by Grade I winners Exaggerator and Texas Red. Mayberry Farm's 2017-foaled graduates include recent GII San Antonio S. winner Express Train (Union Rags) as well as GISW and Lane's End sire Honor A.P. (Honor Code). Along with several successful stallions, many of their past trainees have made a name for themselves as broodmares, including Bubbler (Distorted Humor), the dam of champion Arrogate, and Authenticity (Quiet American), the dam of new Hill 'n' Dale sire Charlatan.

Mayberry said that as she looks back on their most successful graduates, she can put her finger on one common thread.

“I've been around a lot of good horses in my day,” she said. “The one thing they all have in common is intelligence. They have to want to do it. They can have all the ability in the world, but if they don't want to do it, they're not going to and you can't make them. The key is getting them to want to do it and most of the time, it's natural.”

Mayberry can't pick an all-time favorite trainee, but she is confident that their most recent star graduate is one they will never forget.

“I don't like to compare horses because they're all different, whether it's in ability, personality or looks, but Flightline is exactly what you're looking for,” she said. “When he stepped foot onto the track for the first time, he made you smile. That's why we do what we do-for horses like him.”

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