July 15, 2015

On July 13, it was announced that Flaxman Holdings’ MAIN SEQUENCE, trained in America by H. Graham Motion, has been retired from racing because of a tendon injury. And while it’s unfortunate the 6-year-old gelding won’t get a chance to defend his title in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf this fall in Lexington, not so far from the paddock at which he was raised at Lane’s End’s Oat Tree Division, MAIN SEQUENCE already has provided an endless supply of cherished memories for his connections.

There was his game runner-up effort in the G1 Epsom Derby, his smashing late-running score in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Turf, and the Eclipse Award as Champion Turf Male that win ensured him. There was an Eclipse Award as Champion Older Male, a Horse of the Year nomination, and a trip to Dubai for the wold’s richest night of racing. There was an undefeated season raced exclusively in Grade 1 company, and, in total, there were nine wins from 17 starts and over $3.4 million in earnings.

“Having a horse of this caliber who consistently performed at the highest level is an exceptional privilege,” said Alan Cooper, racing manager for the Niarchos family’s Flaxman Holdings.

MAIN SEQUENCE’s story began on Feb. 13, 2009. That’s when the Pivotal (GB) mare Ikat (Ire), owned by the Niarchos family, foaled a handsome chestnut colt with a narrow white blaze.

Named MAIN SEQUENCE after a type of star—his sire Aldebaran was named after a point in the Taurus constellation—the colt traced back to Niarchos royalty. His third dam was the great Northern Trick, Flaxman’s G1 Prix de Diane and G1 Prix Vermeille heroine whose descendants include champion Shiva (Jpn) and the G1 Epsom Oaks winner Light Shift.

MAIN SEQUENCE was a Flaxman horse top and bottom. His sire was also bred and raced by the Niarchos family. Aldebaran won the G1 Met Mile and earned $1.7 million, and was from the family of Flaxman’s G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Spinning World.

Like Aldebaran, MAIN SEQUENCE began his career in Europe. At two, he was sent postward at a whopping 50-1 on debut at Yarmouth for the David Lanigan barn. MAIN SEQUENCE “made headway but still [had] plenty to do over 1f out,” read the official chart, but he came flying in what would become his trademark move and lit up the toteboard in style. Anyone who thought that was a fluke was quickly corrected as MAIN SEQUENCE won his next start as a juvenile, then came back to win his first two starts as a sophomore, capped by a victory in the G3 Derby Trial S.

It takes a respected horse to go off at single-digit odds in the G1 Epsom Derby, and MAIN SEQUENCE justified that respect when he ran second behind Camelot (Ire) in the 2012 renewal of the Classic. An unlucky second in the G2 Great Voltigeur S. later that season and placed in the G2 Arc Trial S. and G3 September S. at four, MAIN SEQUENCE was transferred to Graham Motion’s care at five, and took an immediate liking to America’s flat, firm courses.

In the G1 United Nations last summer, MAIN SEQUENCE sat last of nine off a three-quarter time in 1:14 3/5, then came bowling down the outside to tag the treble Group 2 winner Twilight Eclipse and win under Rajiv Maragh.

It was a repeat in the G1 Sword Dancer, when he lowered the Grade 1 winner Imagining’s flag by a head with a blistering late run, and in the G1 Turf Classic, when he again had that pair behind him.

Up against the likes of the Arc second Flintshire (GB), the Arlington Million winner Hardest Core and the hot European favorite Telescope (Ire) in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf, MAIN SEQUENCE wheeled six wide into the stretch and mowed down at least half the field to beat Flintshire by 3/4 lengths. It was an incredible performance, even by MAIN SEQUENCES’s own high standards.

“It was a great international team effort,” enthused Maria Niarchos afterward. “We bred the stallion, we bred the mare, [Main Sequence] started off in England with David Lanigan before we sent him over here, and voila, he’s won four Group 1’s.”

MAIN SEQUENCE’s perfect 4-for-4 season, all in Grade 1 company, made him a lock as Champion Turf Male, which he took with a commanding 243 first-place votes. Eclipse voters also honored him in the Champion Older Male category, and such was the respect he garnered that he was second in the voting for Horse of the Year.

In his 2015 debut in February, MAIN SEQUENCE closed like a freight train in the G2 Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream to win his fifth straight race in the U.S. from as many starts, with old rival Twilight Eclipse behind him. An injury would ultimately prevent further glory, but as Motion said upon the gelding’s retirement, “[T]he horse doesn’t owe anyone anything, and the family would like to see him retire a champion.”

We at Lane’s End wish MAIN SEQUENCE a long, healthy retirement.

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