Flightline’s jaw-dropping 19 1/4-length victory Sept. 3 in the TVG Pacific Classic Stakes was so powerful it caught the attention of Queen Elizabeth II and prompted a call to Lane’s End’s Bill Farish the day after the race, simply to discuss this remarkable horse.
“This was purely a conversation just because The Queen is so fascinated by racing,” said John Warren, The Queen’s bloodstock and racing manager since 2001, who initiated the call. “Because of the Baaeed story, which obviously we all have been following here, it was fun to be able to talk about another horse, admittedly on a different surface, that was catching the American racing fraternity in the same way.”
Like Flightline, Baaeed is undefeated. Shadwell Estate’s 4-year-old homebred son of Sea The Stars has won five Group 1 stakes in England as part of his 10-for-10 record.
Flightline is a 4-year-old son of Tapit being campaigned by Hronis Racing, Siena Farm, Summer Wind Equine, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Woodford Racing. Summer Wind Equine bred the colt out of the Grade 3-winning Indian Charlie mare Feathered and sold him for $1 million through Lane’s End’s consignment at the 2019 Saratoga Sale, Fasig-Tipton’s select yearling sale in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Trained by John Sadler, Flightline is a three-time Grade 1 winner who is undefeated in five starts and has earned $1,394,800 so far. After his racing career, Flightline will enter stud at Lane’s End.
“She was very interested in Flightline, his history, and his pedigree,” said Farish. “It is amazing that she was still so involved. It shows how much she loved the game.”
Warren was at Balmoral Castle in Scotland the weekend of the Pacific Classic to discuss with The Queen the mating plans for her broodmare band for the coming year. While they were intrigued by Flightline’s performance, their interest did not extend to the possibility of eventually sending a mare or two his way.
“We are very well placed in Europe. We now have the highest percentage of high-class proven sires that we have known in my lifetime,” Warren said. “We don’t have to go far and wide like we did back in the day when most of the best racing prospects were exported to America. We were obliged to use the American sires but thanks to the bigger operations here, the stallion rosters are very impressive.”
But Warren said he spied an opportunity in Flightline for The Queen to indulge her passion for a discussion about the breeding, training, and development of a top racehorse.
“I like to put meat on the bones for the things that are going on. While she followed racing very, very closely, she didn’t often get the chance to talk about the broader sphere of things,” he said. “It was interesting to get Bill on the phone to talk about the history of the horse. Where [Flightline] had come from and that he had consigned him. The preparations they had gone through to get Flightline where he is going.”
The Queen had a long history with the Farish family. She was a guest at Lane’s End when she visited Kentucky in 1984 and attended the first running of the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes at Keeneland, which was her first visit to an American racetrack. She returned to Central Kentucky in 1986, 1989, and 1991 to tour Thoroughbred farms and look at stallions. William S. Farish, the founder of Lane’s End and Bill’s father, also served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James in 2001-’04.
Four days after the conversation with Bill Farish, The Queen died at the age of 96, ending her 70-year reign of the United Kingdom and its Commonwealth.
“We are fortunate to have had Her Majesty profiling our sport and our industry so passionately,” Warren said. “She added, not only to the horses, but to the community. Will was the American ambassador, which adds to the layers of continuity with the horses and all the characters involved in the breeding and racing community. The Queen has gotten to know many of the great characters involved in breeding and racing great horses. She absolutely adored everything.”