Second Chances: 'Team Flightline' Well-Represented on Pacific Classic Undercard

Hawker brought $675k as a KEESEP yearling | Taylor Made/Kelcey Loges


In this continuing series, TDN's Senior Editor Steve Sherack catches up with the connections of promising maidens to keep on your radar.

Before the brilliant Flightline (Tapit) puts his unbeaten record on the line in Saturday's GI TVG Pacific Classic, Hronis Racing, West Point Thoroughbreds and Woodford Racing and trainer John Sadler will also send out the well-bred Hawker (c, 2, Justify–Flaming Heart, by Touch Gold) for his second career start on the undercard.

Given a 6-1 chance going five furlongs on debut at Del Mar Aug. 6, the chestnut jumped well from his outside draw, but was quickly outfooted and began to climb as six of them threw down for early control. Under a busy ride in seventh through an opening quarter in :22.16, Hawker started to figure it out entering the far turn and launched an eye-catching four/five-wide move around the bend.

Looking like a winner as they straightened despite his early struggles and wide journey, he had his sights set on the drifting Mister Iceman (Girvin) in the stretch and just fell a neck short of the game pacesetter while coming home in a field-best :12.01. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to runaway next-out maiden winner Carmel Road (Quality Road), who was forced to check late while a troubled third.

Hawker, given a respectable 76 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort, has posted three workouts since, most recently covering five furlongs in 1:00.40 (20/97) at Del Mar Aug. 28. He drew widest of all in post 10 in an absolutely loaded contest going 6 1/2 furlongs this weekend. Flavien Prat has the mount.

“You're up against it with a horse like this going five-eighths, there's no doubt,” West Point's Terry Finley said of Hawker's debut run. “I thought he was gonna pull up after a quarter of a mile, he was climbing that badly. But then you could see him level out as they went into the far turn. Really neat horse. I know Sadler is very excited to see him come back and make his second start.”

Finley continued, “This will put him in a spot where we'll be able to take another step forward. He's been really good coming out of his first race. He's definitely a horse that we're thinking of–he's gonna make a name for himself.”

Bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm, Hawker brought $675,000 as a yearling out of the Taylor Made Sales Agency consignment at last year's Keeneland September sale.

Triple Crown winner Justify, currently sitting atop the freshman sire standings, is already represented by 11 winners, led by three graded winners. Hawker's dam Flaming Heart, a graded stakes-placed, two-time stakes winner, brought $1.5 million from WinStar Farm in foal to Street Cry (Ire) at the 2007 Keeneland November Sale.

Her winning first foal Mythical Bride (Street Cry) went on to produce GI Breeders' Cup Classic winner and champion older male Vino Rosso (Curlin). Flaming Heart is also responsible for three-time graded winner and narrow GI Belmont S. runner-up Commissioner (A.P. Indy), graded winner and narrow GI Breeders' Cup Sprint runner-up Laugh Track (Distorted Humor) and graded placed Intrepid Heart (Tapit).

“It's a solid pedigree,” Finley said. “Touch Gold as a broodmare sire has been a little bit underrated and Hawker's first dam has a lot of quality to her in her progeny. The Justifys are running to the hype overall. I've been very impressed with them–we have four of them. I think he's as good as any from the younger stallions in their first and second-crop year.”

The 'Second Chances' honor roll is headed by two-time Breeders' Cup winner Golden Pal (Uncle Mo), GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby winner and Lane's End stallion Honor A. P. (Honor Code) and MGISW and 'TDN Rising Star' Paradise Woods (Union Rags).

This term's GI Carter H. winner Speaker's Corner (Street Sense), GI Forego S. winner Cody's Wish (Curlin), GI Preakness S. third-place finisher Creative Minister (Creative Cause), Curlin S. winner and 'TDN Rising Star' Artorius (Arrogate) and streaking Cinema S. winner War At Sea (War Front) have also been featured in the series.

Other standouts include: GSW Moonlight d'Oro (Medaglia d'Oro), GSW & MGISP Spielberg (Union Rags), GSW Backyard Heaven (Tizway), MSW and 'TDN Rising Star' Gidu (Ire) (Frankel {GB}); and GISP A Mo Reay (Uncle Mo).

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