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Pacific Classic Coming Up Strong

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Not to go all Olympics on you, but if the results of stakes races in the first two weeks of the meeting are looked at as “heats” or “prelims” for the $1 million Pacific Classic on Sunday, August 26, then Del Mar’s signature race is going to be one star-studded final.

Acclamation made a successful title defense in the Eddie Read Stakes on July 21, prompting owner Bud Johnston and trainer Don Warren to cite a title defense in the Pacific Classic as a primary goal while leaving open the possibility of going in the Del Mar Handicap on grass one day earlier.

Richard’s Kid set a Polytrack record, 2:29.22 for 1 ½-miles in impressively winning the Cougar II Handicap on Friday, July 27, encouraging trainer Bob Baffert to give the two-time Pacific Classic winner (2009, 2010) a shot at a third.  Richard’s Kid had finished second and third in previous Cougar II assignments before his Pacific Classic triumphs.

Worth Repeating and Balladry, the second and third-place finishers in the Cougar II, are solid Pacific Classic possibilities but may not be the only other ones advancing from the Cougar II to the Classic.

Rail Trip signaled readiness with a victory on Saturday, July 28,  in the San Diego Handicap, the 1 1/16-mile traditional stepping stone to the Classic. It was the first win for Rail Trip in more than two years. But five of the eight straight defeats had come  in an ill-fated, 13-month campaign in the East.  And the last two were while coming off a six-month layoff due to an injury that prompted a return to the West and to the stable of trainer Ron Ellis. It was while in Ellis’ care, and under jockey Jose Valdivia, Jr., Rail Trip scored his biggest victory, the 2009 Hollywood Gold Cup.  

Stats to evidence that Rail Trip runs for the Ellis-Valdivia combination:  Rail Trip is 9-for-15 when saddled by Ellis and seven of those wins were with Valdivia in the irons (he’s 7-for-12)

John Scott and Kettle Corn, the 2-3 finishers in the San Diego, are being considered for the Classic . Baffert is training Game On Dude up to the Classic, with a start dependent upon how the reigning Hollywood Gold Cup Champion handles the Polytrack surface. So far, Baffert has been enthusiastic about the efforts.

The Pacific Classic has had some major East Coast-based horses ship in to participate in the past, and that’s not beyond the realm of possibility this year. But given the results of the “prelims,” it’ll be a brave East Coast trainer who opts to ship.

“Ron The Greek shipped out to win the Santa  Anita Handicap (in March),” Warren pointed out.  “But there are so many races and so much money back there this time of year, they don’t have to come this far unless they think they’ve got a really good horse and a really good shot.

“It’s going to be a tough race, no doubt about that,” Warren said. “You run for a $1 million purse and you’ve got to expect it. “ Warren said he’ll wait until late in Pacific Classic week to decide between the Classic and the Del Mar Handicap.

 

 

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Older Comments about Pacific Classic Coming Up Strong...

Weak Field.
waste of jet fuel unless the track is playing backwards that day.
I saw where Dullahan might run in the Pacific Classic! I guess planes do fly from the east to the west.
gonna be very interesting when he hooks up with acclamation in the pac. classic. he loved the cushion track in the hgc. will he be able to transfer that success to the del mar poly, a surface that runs somewhat differently.

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