Taking Stock: David Ingordo and Flightline

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David Ingordo | Sid Fernando photo

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David Ingordo of Lane's End Bloodstock doesn't smile much, and when he does, it's usually a half-smile. But he does have a sense of humor. On Sunday afternoon, he was spotted at Keeneland outside the Lane's End consignment wearing a gray vest with the name “David DeVaux” embroidered on the chest, a nod and a wink to his trainer wife Cherie DeVaux.

Ingordo likes to be incognito and shuns the spotlight whenever he can, but he's very much in that spotlight at the moment, thanks to Flightline (Tapit), who first caught Ingordo's eye as a short yearling on breeder Jane Lyon's Summer Wind Farm. Flightline is under the care of another trainer, John Sadler, with whom he has a longstanding relationship. Sadler has known Ingordo since Ingordo, 46, was in a crib–Ingordo's father, Jerry Ingordo, a well-known jock's agent who handled Laffit Pincay Jr., among others, had been a mentor to the young Sadler when he was 21 and starting out.

Relationships are important to Ingordo. Seventeen years ago at this same sale at Keeneland, Ingordo was behind the $60,000 purchase of Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss's Zenyatta (Street Cry {Ire}). That iconic mare was trained by John Shirreffs, who's married to Ingordo's mother, Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs, and Zenyatta's success made Ingordo one of the most sought-after bloodstock agents in the business. Will and Bill Farish of Lane's End were quick to hire Ingordo after Zenyatta, and he's been with Lane's End ever since, developing a particularly close relationship with Bill Farish, whose Woodford Racing is one of the partners in Flightline, along with Summer Wind, Hronis Racing, Siena Farm, and West Point Thoroughbreds. On Monday, it was officially announced that Flightline would stand at stud at Lane's End upon the conclusion of his racing career.

Ingordo's Eye

A strongly made bay colt by Medaglia d'Oro from the Distorted Humor mare Pauline Revere, a half-sister to the 2022 American Pharoah Grade I winner American Theorem, was the first horse through the ring Monday. Consigned by Lane's End, the colt was bred by the partnership of Gage Hill Stables and W.S. Farish and was purchased by Talla Racing and West Point Thoroughbreds for $850,000.

A day earlier, Ingordo had the colt out for inspection for one more look before the sale. Bill Farish, wearing a Lane's End vest, was under the shedrow observing from a distance.

“At Lane's End, I've seen a lot of these horses growing up, so it's a little unfair to other horses. This horse has gotten better and better and better. I've probably seen this horse every 60 days his whole life. I like the horses that come forward each time I see them. This is my kind of horse. He's got substance,” Ingordo said.

Medaglia d'Oro was probably one of the most beautiful horses I ever laid eyes on,” said Ingordo as he walked around the colt, looking him up and down before patting him on the shoulder. Medaglia d'Oro, a son of El Prado (Ire), stands at Darley and was trained by Bobby Frankel, for whom Ingordo worked as a teenager. He was one of the first Sadler's Wells-line horses to succeed at top level on dirt in N. America, and from his first crop he got Rachel Alexandra, who was produced from a Forty Niner-line mare like the yearling Ingordo was critiquing.

“[Medaglia d'Oro] is probably in my top 10 of all time physicals. This horse has got the right blend of Medaglia and Distorted Humor with the strength. The pasterns aren't too long. He's got a big forearm and gaskins–I hate a light forearm and light gaskin on studs; fillies, I can give them a pass. This colt has good bone. One of the biggest problems we have in our breed is that we're breeding the bone out of these horses. This horse could stand training for my taste.”

Ingordo dropped down and pointed to a large vein running down the upper part of the colt's inside hind leg. “All these other guys do heart scans and everything, but see that vein inside? That big vein is something that I always look for. I like to see it be very prominent.”

Ingordo has great knowledge of pedigrees–some are judges of pure physical specimens only–and he wants what's in front of him to match closely to what he sees on the catalog page. “It's like a BMW, to use an example. It's got the symbol on the front. You might have different designs of BMWs, different models, but the models fit a spec.”

Ingordo asked the handler to walk the colt. “It's not a walking contest,” he said, “but if they're a little close behind or something, it doesn't bother me. I don't mind if they're a little choppy or this or that, but I want them to use their hindquarters and reach with their shoulders. This colt is nice. He's wide. A nice swing to his tail. It looks like he'd push off and go. He's a nice moving horse, he uses himself. That's what I like to see.”

Like most judges, Ingordo prefers a well-defined shoulder set at the right angle, a beautiful neck, ample girth, short cannon bones, and overall balance, but he also looks for good length on a line from the point of hip to the tip of the hock–“That's the lever,” he said.

And he's a stickler for rear-end construction. “I always stand behind them. I want to see like a beam, a big, broad beam, when you draw this line. It's a flat square. You got the big gaskins and you drop down with these two pillars being the hind legs. This horse has a nice square hind end on him. It's actually not dissimilar to a horse like Flightline. Everything is defined and nice and strong.”

Flightline

Before Flightline became Flightline, an undefeated winner of five starts who won his last race by an astonishing 19 1/4 lengths in 1:59.28, eased up in the 10 furlongs of the Gl Pacific Classic S., he was bay yearling gamboling in a paddock in early 2019 with another chestnut Tapit colt at Summer Wind named Triple Tap, a half-brother to American Pharoah who's now won two of six starts for Bob Baffert and owner/breeder Summer Wind.

“In January of Flightline's yearling year, shortly after the holidays, Bill Farish told me we have to go out to Ms. Lyon's place to look at a Tapit half to American Pharoah,” Ingordo said. “The impetus was that Jane [Lyon] had talked to Bill Farish on wanting to stay in on Triple Tap and putting a partnership together to race him. We got in the car and drive out, and they bring out two colts by Tapit. The first one was Flightline, but he was the paddock buddy of the one we're supposed to look at. So, after we're looking at them, I kind of say out loud, I like this brown one better. Bill's like, shut up and look at the other horse. That's who we're here to see. You know, don't be rude kind of thing.”

Over the next few months, Ingordo would see both colts on a regular basis, and he made a mental note about Flightline.

As chance would have it, months later Ingordo ended up catching a ride on a Tex Sutton flight taking Lane's End-consigned yearlings to Saratoga for the yearling sale. “One of the guys on the flight who knows my wife said, 'David, you care to snap a shank on a couple of them yearlings? It's getting ready to be bumpy.' I said, 'Yeah, I'll do that.' So I get up and see this brown horse and I'm petting him–I like horses–and snap a shank on him. I look down at the halter and it says 'Flightline.' I say, 'Oh shoot, it's that horse.' Later on, I'm shortlisting and I look at all our Lane's End yearlings, and I said to Bill, 'That's the horse. He's the horse we liked on the farm when we were out looking at Triple Tap.'”

Ingordo said Farish spoke to Lyon about the colt. “Bill said she wants a lot of money for the horse but would stay in for a leg, but we have to put a deal together around the horse. So we sat down and penciled who we could call.”

The rest is history. The colt sold for $1 million to West Point at Saratoga.

Ingordo is quick to point out that the partners in the horse–“the best group of owners”–are instrumental in his success, because each owner was 100-percent behind giving the colt the time he needed to realize his potential at every step in the process. And, Ingordo noted, there were several hiccups along with way before the horse even got to Sadler that would have tested the patience of others.

“When he had the freak injury to his hindquarter in February of his 2-year-old year–it was a freak thing, and these things happen–we did the right thing and gave him the time, and nobody panicked,” Ingordo said. “And then when he was getting ready to ship to California–I literally had him booked on the plane–a little odd thing happened. Just tweaked something. Never had surgery, nothing like that. We had to give him more time, sent him to Kentucky, had him checked out, gave him the time again. There was no hesitation on anyone's part. It was just, do the right thing. Then he ran, and after that, later, he stepped on a rock and got a deep foot bruise that popped out. That took more time.

“But this is a textbook case of, if you want to run a top-level horse that puts everything into his races and has been unlucky with a couple of bull-crappy things, this is how you do it from an ownership standpoint.”

Ingordo never went to California to see Flightline race in the Pacific Classic, but he'll have a front row seat at Keeneland for the Gl Breeders' Cup Classic. He'll be in the spotlight there whether he likes it or not.

Sid Fernando is president and CEO of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants, Inc., originator of the Werk Nick Rating and eNicks.

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