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HRN Original Blog:
Pedigree Power

Handicapping the TVG Pacific Classic

Bob Baffert has conditioned the winner of the Pacific Classic three times in the last five years, twice with Richard’s Kid and last year with Game On Dude. This year, he brings the gallant Dude to Del Mar to attempt another double score in the Grade One contest.  If Game On Dude wins, he’ll become the oldest horse to have won the race. At the other end of the age spectrum, the undefeated Shared Belief will attempt to become the fifth three year old to beat older horses in the Pacific Classic. Ashley Tamulonis of the From Coast to Coast blog and I discus dudes, shared beliefs and, of course, who we like in the race. Game on!

 

ASHLEY

LAURIE

FRAC DADDY--Once unbeaten on synthetics, the former all weather king has seen his form slip in his two most recent starts. He's been training well over Del Mar's surface, and the rail post has been winning at a 21% clip. The biggest questions will be how he handles a distance he has yet to have success at and whether or not he and Game On Dude will burn each other out on the lead.

FRAC DADDY (Scat Daddy - Skipper's Mate, by Skip Away) may like the Poly, but Del Mar plays different than the East Coast tracks. Scat Daddy’s babies are 1-23 on the Del Mar Poly. Plus, although he has the advantageous rail position, he’ll need slower fractions on the lead to be effective. Pass.

Editor's Note - SCRATCHED 

IRISH SURF--Demolished the Cougar Handicap field in his last start, pulling away to win by 8 1/4 lengths in track record time for the 1 1/2 mile affair. Fluke or evidence that the colt is coming into his own? This weekend will likely determine the answer to that all important question. As for me, I see a good bit of upside here. Contender.

IRISH SURF (Giant's Causeway - Surfside, by Seattle Slew) is the best bred colt in the field. His dam was a champion three year old filly and his second dam, Flanders, was a champion two year old filly. As Ashley noted, Irish Surf set a new track record in his last start.  His previous victory was exactly one year ago. I don’t think he’ll win here, but he is a contender underneath.

IMPERATIVE--Is definitely not as good as his Charles Town Classic win would suggest. For whatever reason, the gelded son of Bernardini liked the bull ring track, and his speed figures have declined since that rich victory. Pass.

IMPERATIVE (Bernardini - Call Her, by Caller I. D.) pulled and had to steady off heels in the San Diego Handicap, finishing a lackluster eighth. Bernardini’s babies are 1-18 at Del Mar. Kenty D. is having an excellent meet, but even his guidance won’t get this one in the top four.  Pass.

ICE CREAM TRUCK--Was well beaten by Irish Surf in the Cougar in his stakes debut. This field is deeper than what he faced that day. Pass.

 

ICE CREAM TRUCK (Pleasantly Perfect - Coconut Popsicle, by Smart Strike) is a son of the 2004 Pacific Classic winner. He ran as fast as an ice cream truck trolling for customers in his last race.  Although he’s hit the board in two of three tries on Poly, this guy is much better over the dirt. Pleasantly Perfect’s offspring are 1-21 over the Del Mar Poly.  Pass on the Bomb Pop.

 

GAME ON DUDE--The once mighty "Dude" just hasn't been the same racehorse this year. Whether he's lost a step or two off last season or everyone else has just figured out how to beat him is irrelevant. The fact remains that this time last year I was all in on the Dude. This year, I have to look elsewhere. Exotics.

 

GAME ON DUDE (Awesome Again - Worldly Pleasure, by Devil His Due) is a veteran of 33 races.  Love him or hate him, you have to give Baffert kudos for keeping this guy competitive at the highest level for five years straight. Has he lost a step, as Ashley stated?  The Dude has finished out of the money only three times since last November, but his speed figures have declined in his last three races. Unless he’s on the lead, he doesn’t win. Plus, long time jock Mike Smith jumps off of him in favor of Shared Belief.  I’m going to take a pass on the Dude for the win. He’s certainly one to include on exotic wagers.

 

YOU KNOW I KNOW--Has not won a race since this time last year and has not finished any better than 3rd in the 6 starts in the interim. He did run third in this same event last year, but I don't like his chances to replicate or improve upon that particular performance. Pass.

 

YOU KNOW I KNOW (Simon Pure - Magic Show, by Notebook) has hit the board in all three starts at Del Mar. He’s one of the few stalkers in a race with plenty of early speed.  He could clunk up for third or fourth and spoil the exotics. 

 

MAJESTIC HARBOR--Has turned into a beast at the classic distances this year. He owns graded stakes wins at 10 and 12 furlongs, including a smashing victory in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita. He's been working smartly at Del Mar and his speed figures have been improving. Contender.

 

MAJESTIC HARBOR (Rockport Harbor - Champagne Royale, by French Deputy) is enjoying life in California, having hit the board in four of five starts since traveling west of the Rockies.  As Ashley commented, he’s really found his niche at classic distances. Majestic Harbor has never tried Polytrack, but his sire’s progeny have a 13% win rate at Del Mar, plus his morning works indicate that Majestic Harbor should handle the track just fine. Contender.

 

TOAST OF NEW YORK--Invaded from across the pond to run 6th in the Belmont Derby on the turf. Take that in conjunction with his 5th place finish on the turf in his career debut and it becomes clear that synthetics are what this colt prefers. He'll be facing his elders for the first time, a task that not every 3-year old is necessarily up for in their first outing under those conditions. Pass.

 

TOAST OF NEW YORK (Thewayyouare - Claire Soleil, by Syncline) is a Polytrack monster, at least in Europe and Dubai.  Sure, he won the U.A.E. Derby, but the previous three winners of that race never won again, making that race’s form very suspect.  Yes, he’s the other three year old in here facing older horses, but I think he’s an interesting long shot. The only other foal by Thewayyouare won at Del Mar. Maybe this guy can hit the board at long odds.  Exotics contender.

 

CLUBHOUSE RIDE--Is a nice intact son of Candy Ride, but he's always been a cut below the best of the California runners. He got a break through win in the Californian back in May, but he then lost to Majestic Harbor, who he beat at 9 furlongs in the Californian, going 10 furlongs in the Gold Cup. He has yet to completely hold his own against a bunch this strong, and I don't foresee that changing. Pass.

 

CLUBHOUSE RIDE (Candy Ride (ARG) - Seeking Results, by Seeking the Gold) always shows up. He’s a consistent trier and you can’t knock that. He’s won one race a year since 2012, and he’s had his win for this year.  He also has a 5-1-0-0 record at Del Mar.  Pass.

 

MYSTERY TRAIN--Is certainly a mystery. A glance at his past performances shows that this Argentinian import relishes a route of ground. This will be his first U.S. start, and sometimes it takes a race or two for the South American shippers to get their hooves under them. I took a look at the replays from some of his South American races and drew one major conclusion: he is the Argentinian Game On Dude. He's fast and he can run his competitors off their feet. Dirt to all weather is a question, but I find myself liking this guy. Contender.

 

MYSTERY TRAIN  (Not For Sale (ARG) - American Whisper, by Quiet American) hit the board in all but one start in Argentina.  Is he as good as the Two Argentinian horses have won the Pacific Classic, Gentlemen in 1997 and Candy Ride in 2003?  Unlike Gentlemen and Candy Ride, who were named champions in their home country before heading to the U.S.,  Mystery Train has been bested by lesser horses, making his class here suspect.  While, Mystery Train’s works at Del Mar have been average, both of his sire’s previous runners over the Del Mar Poly have failed to hit the board. Trainer Darrell Vienna has won with one of eight foreign shippers. Pass.

 

SHARED BELIEF--Just by listening to people talk, you'd think Shared Belief was the second coming of Secretariat. Sure he's undefeated, but he's also untested. I never bought into the hype, and I still don't. He may have a perfect record going into the weekend, but I doubt that will be the case come Sunday evening. Pass.

 

SHARED BELIEF (Candy Ride (ARG) - Common Hope, by Storm Cat) brilliant, undefeated, but also untested.  Sorry Ashley, I’m going to buy into the hype.  He’s by a superior Polysire.  This colt descends from a quality female family. His dam is a full sister to recently deceased California sire Tribal Rule (a top Polysire). She’s a half to Grade 1 winner Key Phrase, who is the dam of sire Yankee Gentleman (another top Polysire) and Key Phrase is also the grand-dam of Grade 2 winner Half Ours.  I see only two chinks in Shared Belief’s armor. One is that he’s borderline for getting 1 ¼ miles in top company.  Candy Ride has sired only one stakes winner at 1 ¼ miles (Misremembered).  The second is – for the first time in his young career, Shared Belief is facing top company in the form of older horses. Hollendorfer has been pointing Shared Belief to this race, Smith elects to stay with him over Game On Dude, and you know this colt will be ready to give it his best.

 

 

In the last seven years, two horses, Game On Dude and Acclamation, have wired the field. One winner was a mid-pack runner and the other four were closers. This year’s edition of the Pacific Classic has plenty of speed.  Game On Dude is a confirmed front runner, but I don’t see him getting an easy lead. Mystery Train has early speed. Shared Belief could go to the front early, too although he’s shown the ability to rate off of the lead, so jockey Mike Smith could sit directly behind the front runners. Frac Daddy on the rail and Irish Surf like to be near the early pace. Clubhouse Ride and You Know I Know are confirmed one-paced closers, while the rest will fill the in-between spots.

 

SELECTIONS:

Ashley:                                            

#7 MAJESTIC HARBOR,  #2 IRISH SURF, #5 GAME ON DUDE, #10 MYSTERY TRAIN (longshot pick)           

                                     

Laurie:

#11 SHARED BELIEF, #7 MAJESTIC HARBOR, #5 GAME ON DUDE, #6  IRISH SURF  (longshot pick)

 

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Meet Laurie Ross
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've been around horses for most of my life, working in racing stables as a hot walker and exercise rider in my teenage years, and later as a volunteer with rescued and retired racehorses. I became interested in pedigree when the sons and daughters of my favorite horses started their racing careers.   

 

For more than a decade, I've passionately studied pedigree, how it applies to handicapping and breeding theories. In 2010, I joined Horse Racing Nation as their Pedigree Analyst, focusing on juvenile stakes winners, Triple Crown contenders and first crop sires from a handicapping perspective.   

 

In 2011, I accepted the role of South Florida Coordinator and Advisory Board Member for the national non-profit Thoroughbred Racing Fan Association (ThoroFan). Working closely with Gulfstream Park management and other race fans, we created a ThoroFan Chapter at Gulfstream Race Track. Our main project is assisting Thoroughbred rescue and re-training groups.

 

I continue to maintain my website Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds and blog of the same name. As a pedigree consultant, I specialize in assisting small to mid-size breeding/training operations with broodmare breeding reports, sales catalog analysis and recommendations on claims and private sales. 10 - 20% of all proceeds are donated to Thoroughbred rescue and retraining groups.
 
I welcome your questions regarding pedigree, handicapping and breeding. If you would like me to cover a specific topic please contact me at lross@horseracingnation.com.