Though the race still is two weeks away, the
$1-million Pacific Classic Presented by TVG is already shaping up as a
potentially large field.
At least 12 early
prospects are already on board tentatively, led by defending champion Richard's
Kid and Hollywood Gold Cup winner Awesome Gem, who will be making a record
fourth start in the Grade I race.
Awesome Gem is one of
four horses to run three times in the Classic -- inaugural winner and newly
minted Hall of Famer Best Pal, two-time winner Tinners Way and two-time
runner-up Perfect Drift.
A trio of shippers are
included among the early prospects -- Gio Ponti, trained by Christophe Clement,
Hold Me Back from the New York
barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and Coolcullen Times, trained by
Mid-Atlantic-based H. Graham Motion.
Gio Ponti, 2009 Eclipse
Award winner as top male grass runner and runner-up to the undefeated mare
Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic, is not new to the seashore, having
finished second to Madeo in the 2008 Del Mar Derby. The 5-year-old son of Tale
of the Cat won the prestigious Man O' War Stakes at Belmont Park
in his most recent outing on July 10.
Hold Me Back will be
traveling to the West Coast for the first time and will come in off a victory
in Woodbine's Dominion Day Handicap. As a 3-year-old, Hold Me Back was on the
Triple Crown trail after winning the Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park
and finishing second in Keeneland's Blue Grass Stakes before finishing 12th in
the Kentucky Derby. The Irish-bred Coolcullen Times will also be coming west
for the first time after finishing third in the John's Call Stakes at Saratoga August 6.
Other local stars expected for Del Mar's signature
race include Eddie Read Stakes winner The Usual Q.T., San Diego Handicap winner
Dakota Phone and Cougar II Handicap winner Temple City, as well as Enriched,
who was third in both the Eddie Read and San Diego on successive weekends;
Crowded House, fourth in the Eddie Read; Isle of Giant's, fourth in the San
Diego, and Unusual Suspect, second in the Cougar II.
Temple City worked a sharp 4 furlongs this morning in 47.60 for
trainer Carla Gaines.