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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Undefeated Flightline a big rags-to-riches tale

by Wally Hall | November 16, 2022 at 3:23 a.m.

As Flightline drew away to win the Breeders' Cup Classic by 8 lengths, the comparisons to Secretariat were underway.

Flightline has a strong connection to Little Rock. He was bred at Summer Wind Farm, which is owned by Little Rock native Jane Lyon.

Jane and her late husband, Frank Lyon Jr., also a native of the capital city, founded the farm in 1995 after he survived a fight with cancer and sold all his financial holdings, made some private donations and moved to Lexington, Ky., to pursue his wife's dream.

Frank died in 2015, but his wife has continued to build a successful farm in an area where thoroughbred racing is usually generations old.

Flightline, who is undefeated, sold for $1 million, but Jane kept a piece of the ownership.

The farm's biggest winner was a rags-to-riches tale. Jane bought Lil Indy, a $2,200 horse as a yearling, for more than a million dollars to be a broodmare.

In 2019, Maximum Security, Lil Indy's colt, was the 3-year-old of the year and finished his career with more than $12 million in winnings.

Flightline, out of Tapit by Feathered, is 6-0 and has won more than $4.5 million. He was injured as a 2-year-old and didn't race, He missed much of his 3-year-old campaign with a bruise.

In his six races, he has won by more than a combined 63 lengths.

Secretariat, considered by most to be the greatest thoroughbred in history, won the 1973 Triple Crown, including a victory in the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths.

As for Flightline, no decision has been made on whether to run him as a 5-year-old or turn him into a stud, but Jane withdrew Eagles Flight from the Keeneland Yearling sale in September.

Eagles Flight is a half-brother to Flightlight. He was sired by Curlin to Feathered.

. . .

Another note on horse racing, it is still hard to believe that Oaklawn Racing Caino Resort is just 23 days from starting its season.

By changing the racing dates to begin in December, Oaklawn gave horsemen a place to work and race during a time that the industry is generally shut down.

Horses are already on the track and have started training for a season that is expected to top $50 million in purses.

Oaklawn will not run on Sunday, Dec. 25, but will have live racing Dec. 30-31, and if you hope to spend New Year's at the track's hotel don't wait to make the date.

On another note, Dec. 31 will be a celebration of the past for Southland Casino Racing as that will be its final day as a dog track.

The casino is in full swing and the hotel is partly open and nearing completion.

. . .

Nick Smith's knee injury has become a source for speculation.

The freshman McDonald's All-American for the Arkansas Razorbacks has not played yet and is not practicing as he rehabs his right knee.

No one, not Smith, doctors or trainers, can give a date of his return because everyone's body heals differently.

If he is lost for the season it would be a blow to the Razorbacks. No one can lose a player like Smith and not feel it.

He is a top-shelf 5-star player who could start for any team in the country. He chose the UA over everyone to play, not intentionally sit out a season.

On what he did in high school he is projected as a top-five pick in the next NBA Draft.

The big question seems to be if he misses this season will he come back or go ahead and become a millionaire NBA player?

There is no answer for that right now and wouldn't be until next spring when the NBA analyzes where he would be drafted.

If he misses this season, he'll be missed, but he'll miss it just as much.


Print Headline: Undefeated Flightline a big rags-to-riches tale

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