Undefeated Flightline captivated not only a United States horse racing audience but also the global racing fanbase as evidenced by Queen Elizabeth II’s to call one of his owners, Lane’s End’s Bill Farish, the day after he won the TVG Pacific Classic Stakes by 19 ¼ lengths.
That unforgettable Pacific Classic victory earned Flightline a 140 rating in the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, established by a panel of international handicappers according to the performance of the horses in top races, and ultimately secured the superstar American dirt horse the title of World’s Best Racehorse for 2022.
Flightline was officially crowned 2022 Longines World’s Best Racehorse Jan. 17 in London, England at the Banqueting House in a ceremony emceed by Francesca Cumani. Organized by Swiss watch brand Longines and the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), the Longines World Racing Awards is now in its 10th year.
Flightline follows past winners such as American Pharoah, Arrogate, Black Caviar, Cracksman, Enable, Treve, and Winx.
European star Baaeed, who won 10 of 11 lifetime races, checked in second behind Flightline with a rating of 135 for his victory in the Juddmonte International Stakes. The 135 was the highest rating given to a turf runner since Frankel earned a 140 in 2012.
Flightline capped his season, and career, with an 8 ¼-length runaway win in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 5 at Keeneland Race Course.
The Breeders’ Cup Classic was named the 2022 Longines World’s Best Horse Race with a rating of 126.75, recognizing the 1 ¼-mile dirt race the best-rated race from among the highest-rated Group 1 international races. The ratings of the top four finishers in each race serve as basis for the assessment, and the top four finishers of the 2022 Classic were all Grade 1 winners: Flightline, Olympiad, Taiba, and Rich Strike.
Trained by John Sadler for a partnership of Hronis Racing, Siena Farm, Summer Wind Equine, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Woodford Racing, Flightline was yet again the star of the show at the Longines World’s Best Racehorse ceremony. His 140 rating equaled the aforementioned Frankel’s benchmark rating set in 2012 under the current system.
Before Flightline, the highest rating given to a dirt horse was a 135 achieved in 1996 by Cigar, who subsequently was named the Racehorse of the Decade of the 1990s in the United States.
In addition to his dominant wins in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic and TVG Pacific Classic Stakes, Flightline won the Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap by six lengths in his season debut, which was the smallest margin of victory in his undefeated (6-for-6) career.
Flightline’s historic 140 rating came after he trounced Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline winner Country Grammer by 19 ¼ lengths in the Pacific Classic. The following day the Queen called Farish (Woodford Racing) simply to discuss the remarkable horse and his performance. John Warren, The Queen’s bloodstock and racing manager since 2001, initiated the call.
Two days after the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, a 2.5% fractional interest in Flightline was auctioned off for $4.6 million at Keeneland, which equates to a $186 million total value for the horse. In comparison, Justify, the last Triple Crown winner, had his stallion rights bought for $75 million in 2018.
Flavien Prat was the rider for all six of Flightline’s wins.
John Sadler also trained Accelerate, who won the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic and was named the third-highest rated horse in the world that year and the highest rated dirt horse.
Flightline has been retired and will stand his first season at stud at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky for a fee of $200,000.
A Shadwell Estate homebred trained by William Haggas, Baaeed was celebrated as the second-highest rated horse and the highest rated turf horse in the world for 2022 after earning a rating of 135 for his 6 ½-length runaway win in the Juddmonte International Stakes in August at York.
The 135 mark is also just one below the 136 Baaeed’s own sire, Sea the Stars, earned in 2009.
Baaeed won four Group 1 races in 2022, taking the Qatar Sussex Stakes, Queen Anne Stakes, and Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes in addition to the Juddmonte International.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the owner of Shadwell, died in March 2021. His daughter, Sheikha Hissa Hamdan al-Maktoum, has taken over the racing and breeding operation. Baaeed won 10 of his 11 career starts and has been retired to stand his first season at stud at Shadwell’s Nunnery Stud in England.