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Graded Events Add Lustre to Pacific Classic Day

The attention, justifiably, will fall most heavily on the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic on Sunday. There are a million reasons why it’s called the meeting’s signature race.

But there’s ample reason for horsemen, horse players and general fans to put considerable focus on the two $250,000 Grade II races, the Del Mar Mile and the Pat O’Brien Stakes, that precede the approximate 5:46 p.m. post time for the Classic, the 10th on an 11-race card.

The Mile, which goes as the fifth race at 3:03 p.m., has Irish-bred Obviously bidding for a third straight victory – in the race itself and in 2014 – and aiming to take a significant step toward a third try at the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Mile. In 2013, Obviously won the American Handicap and Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park before taking the Del Mar Mile for the second year in a row for Mike Mitchell, the track’s all-time leader for training wins.

Mitchell retired in April and turned the stable over to his 12-year assistant, Phil D’Amato, who saddled Obviously to victories in the American Handicap and Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita, Hollywood Park having closed in December.

New track, new trainer, same old (6 years) Obviously.

“His style is, he just loves to go,” Mitchell, now an advisor to D’Amato, said Saturday morning. All eight of Obviously’s victories in the past two years – starting with an optional claimer here on August 2, 2012 and the Del Mar Mile 24 days later – have been wire-to-wire.

“If you want to go with him and commit suicide, OK,” Mitchell said. “But you’re not going to stay with him. He’s big, strong and I think he’s as good as he’s ever been. Phil has him as sharp as he can be. I love the way he’s been getting over the ground in his workouts. We’re just really excited about his chances.”

Obviously faces seven rivals in the Mile, chief among them the Jim Cassidy-trained Tom’s Tribute. A son of Lion Heart, Tom’s Tribute was third to Obviously, beaten two lengths, in the Shoemaker before taking the Grade I 1 1/8-mile Eddie Read Stakes  here on July 20.

The 7-furlong Pat O’Brien brings back Big Macher and Goldencents, the 1-2 finishers in the 6-furlong Bing Crosby Stakes on July 27, to take on five rivals. Among that group is defending Pat O’Brien champion Fed Biz, an impressive wire-to-wire winner of the San Diego Handicap on July 27.

Fed Biz is the 2-1 favorite in track oddsmaker Russ Hudak’s morning line with Goldencents at 5-2 and Big Macher 3-1. The Pat O’Brien is a “Win And You’re In” qualifier for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on November 1 at Santa Anita.

Fed Biz owner Kaleem Shah also campaigns Bayern, the 2-1 morning line favorite in Saturday’s $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Wins by Bayern, who trained at Del Mar for a victory in the $1 million Haskell Invitational on July 27 at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, and Fed Biz would give Shah another double-win memorable weekend of the summer of 2014.

The scratch Saturday of Diamond Bachelor moves Fed Biz from the No. 2 post to the rail.

Source: Del Mar

 

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