2011 has had its fair share of groundbreaking events and electrifying races, but this weekend has the potential to top the charts. Not only will racing fans finally get to see Uncle Mo return to action in the Kings Bishop Stakes on a star-studded Saratoga Saturday card, but the nation’s current leading older mare and Horse of the Year candidate, Blind Luck, could be taking on males for the first time in her storied career at Del Mar on Sunday.
The Pacific Classic (Gr.1) attracted 18 nominations with a field of twelve or more possible to run in the $1 million event. With main divisional rival Havre de Grace heading to the Woodward Stakes (Gr.1) at Saratoga on September 3rd for her first meeting with males, Blind Luck’s trainer Jerry Hollendorfer ruled out possible runs in both the August 28th Personal Ensign and Woodward Stakes, stating the champion filly would stay home for her next race. There are two options on the table for Blind Luck, The Pacific Classic this weekend, and the Lady’s Secret Stakes (Gr.1) on October 1st. The logical choice is the Pacific Classic as Havre de Grace will be heading for a prestigious showdown with the males in early September and could gain a lead in the race for the Horse of the Year with a win. If Hollendorfer really wants to give Blind Luck her best shot at winning another championship this year, he’ll send her against the males.
The Pollard’s Vision filly is currently undefeated in two starts at the 1 ¼ mile distance of the Pacific Classic, winning the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga last year, and most recently capturing a thrilling rendition of the Delaware Handicap (gr.2) on July 16th. Both races were won by a neck and a nose over Havre de Grace. Blind Luck has been training exceptionally well over Del Mar’s all weather track in preparation for her next start, starting with a strong 1:00.00 flat five furlong breeze on July 29th that she followed up with a 1:00.40 five furlong work one week later on August 5th. Her two latest works are identical six furlong moves that she completed in 1:13.40, completing the last breeze on August 17th. She is scheduled to make put in her final work on August 24th.[Will Blind Luck enter/win the Pacific Classic? She currently ranks a very close third on HRN's Active Horses Rankings page]
The Pacific Classic has a strong prospective field lining up to face the female champion if she runs, including two Grade 1 winners, and three multiple graded stakes winners. Leading the cast of older male stars are Grade 1 winners Game On Dude and Twirling Candy, most recently seen finishing second and third respectively in the Hollywood Gold Cup (Gr.1) behind now retired First Dude.
Game One Dude turned in a :59.20 five furlong bullet in preparation for the Pacific Classic on Tuesday and will enter the race off six straight works, all very strong.
Twirling Candy has proven to be somewhat of a disappointment this yea. Sfter capturing the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes in late December and taking the Strub Stakes (gr.2) in early February with ease, many expected the Candy Ride colt to seize control of the Older Male division. After 5th place finishes in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr.1) and a third place finish in the Hollywood Gold Cup, his status is very shaky. He enters off three straight bullet works and appears ready to run the best 1 ¼ mile race of his life.
Other possible starters include multiple graded stakes winners Bourbon Bay and Jeranimo as well as Tres Borrachos, Caracortado and Seksuko.
The big question is this -- Can Blind Luck continue to be as devastating against the males as she has proven to be against the filly and mare division for the last two years? With chances that a large field could be entered looking good, I’d say Blind Luck has an excellent shot at winning the Pacific Classic, earning her 6th Grade 1 win, and fourth consecutive graded stakes victory.
Over the years she has shown how talented she is by closing into slow fractions from far back in the pack and running down loose-on-the-lead type frontrunners. She will most likely get a strong pace to close into in the Classic and will have a perfectly tailored 1 ¼ mile journey.
If she does enter the Pacific Classic and wins she makes a very strong case for Horse of the Year honors and should be a shoe in for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. If on the other hand she loses all eyes will turn to Havre de Grace in the Woodward. I say may the best horse win in the Pacific Classic and the race for Horse of the Year. And I think that horse is Blind Luck.