No Shortage of Excitement For Lane's End's Newest Addition

Flightline at Lane's End | Sara Gordon photo

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Just a week and a half after GI Longines Breeders' Cup Classic winner Flightline (Tapit) was officially retired and shipped from Keeneland Race Course down the road to his new home at Lane's End Farm, the Versailles-based operation opened its doors to members of the media for an up-close and personal afternoon with their newest superstar addition on Wednesday.

With a group of nearly 15 in attendance, along with members of the Lane's End team, Flightline was walked around the stallion complex, displaying how well he has adapted to life on the farm. Despite the colder temperatures, with a hint of snow and the bite of wind in the air, the recently retired colt took everything in stride as those watching took videos and photos to document the experience.

After all facetime with Flightline was fulfilled, the group headed inside to hear from Lane's End's Bill Farish and David Ingordo, the operation's bloodstock agent, who provided further insight on the decision to retire Flightline this year. He will enter stud next season, standing for a fee of $200,000 LFSN.

“We got together the Sunday afterwards, the day after [the Breeders' Cup], and we went over every scenario, looking at the different races and different targets he could have had for next year,” said Farish.

The GI Pegasus World Cup, set for Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023 at Gulfstream Park, was brought up as an example, where the team weighed questions such as, “Who's going to run in the Pegasus against him? Is it going to be worth waiting that time and bucking up against breeding season?”

“To go on through the [next] year, again, he'd beaten the best four 3-year-olds and best other older horses that are out there. Who's going to emerge to run against him? By the time Breeders' Cup rolls around next year, maybe there will be a superstar that will be worthy of that, but that's a long wait for one race. There just really was no upside to keep him in training,” said Farish.

In the end, those factors along with the reality that he was at the end of his 4-year-old season led owners Hronis Racing, West Point Thoroughbreds, Siena Farm, Summer Wind Equine and Lane's End-affiliated partnership Woodford Racing to the ultimate decision to retire Flightline from his racing career and ready him for his first season at stud.

Flightine has proven to acclimate exceptionally well throughout his racing career. He did so when traveling from his home base at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, CA, to Belmont Park in Elmont, NY, for a victorious romp in the GI Hill 'n' Dale Metropolitan H., and later back to the West Coast for his breathtaking GI TVG Pacific Classic win at Del Mar. And finally returning to what ended up being his final destination in central Kentucky, Flightline struts around Lane's End as if he's spent his entire life there.

“He just adapted immediately; we probably could have just turned him out the first day. He's been so relaxed and so intelligent about everything, it's amazing. He's a really smart horse,” said Farish.

Not only does Flightline add prestige to the farm's 2023 roster in the form of on-track success and exceptional conformation, but there's also immense hope that he will add to the legacies that have been created by his sire Tapit, grandsire Pulpit and great-grandsire A.P. Indy, the late stalwart of Lane's End.

“Having multiple generations of any sire line has always meant a lot to us here. With Dixieland Band, we've had four generations of that sire line, and now seeing the same thing happen with A.P. Indy, it's really special,” said Farish.

 

 

 

With all of that being said, the team at Lane's End has been under immense pressure to pull together the best possible first book for their new stallion. But even before the decision to officially retire Flightline to stud was made, a continuous stream of inquiries was flooding in and the team was diving into pedigree research in an effort to plan ahead.

“I think people in their minds maybe felt he would retire, so they took it upon themselves to say, 'I'm going to set this mare aside.' Nobody knew we were retiring this horse until the morning we did, because it was that kind of decision, it was a very difficult one,” Ingordo said. “When people would say, 'Well should I send you a mare?' I'd reply, 'If you want to set one aside, you go ahead, you send it to me, we'll figure it out [when] we do it,' and this was during the October sale, the September sale. Once the announcement was made, the inbox and texts and everything got full.”

“We did a lot of pedigree research ahead of time, and again, we didn't decide we were retiring him until Sunday morning, but we went on the offensive because we figured if he races on, we'll have this year's sales mares and next year's sales mares. We went through and worked with [Werk Thoroughbred Consultants'] Sid Fernando on some pedigree research, and later we graded them all, then we made a list. Once he was retired, we went through and looked at them all and we just [assessed] every mare that fit him.”

According to Farish, Flightline's first book of mares will be set around 150.

He remarked on the impressive quality of the mares submitted so far, with plenty of interest from many of the top breeders nationwide and substantial attention from prominent international interests. Notable mares that are already part of the book include champion Shamrock Rose (First Dude), purchased for $3 million in foal to Curlin at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale by KI Farm; Queen Caroline (Blame), dam of 'TDN Rising Star' and multiple Grade I winner Forte (Violence); and Diva Delite (Repent), dam of champion Midnight Bisou (Midnight Lute).

“We've had a lot of interest from the Japanese. They were going to take their mares straight to Japan and I think we've got five or six horses that came out of the sale, that were purchased by Japanese [connections], that are going to hopefully breed to him and spread his influence over there,” said Farish. “That's one of the unbelievable added benefits with a horse like this, there's total international interest and a lot of European mares as well, so I think he'll have a really good balance. I wish it was this easy with all of them.”

“We bought the mares we thought we liked that fit him and we had notes on all of these other ones so when people were submitting them, we tried to be as thoughtful as we could without, as a friend of mine says, having 'Analysis to paralysis.' We think we've curated a pretty good book,” added Ingordo.

Until breeding season officially begins in February, all the team behind Flightline can do is wait, while continuing to field hundreds of emails, phone calls and a seemingly never-ending stream of farm visits.

“I don't know if it's going to work or not but we can't say we didn't try,” said Ingordo.

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