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Pacific Classic Field Starting to Take Shape

Game On Dude Gold Cup 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Spotswire - Alex Evers

We didn’t check with the legal department to find out for sure, but we’re operating on the assumption that Wimbledon doesn’t have exclusive rights to the term “fortnight” for a major sporting event. Since it was much easier to do, however, we did check the calendar and see that Sunday marks the beginning of the two-week run-up to the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic on Sunday, August 25.

So on the eve of commencement of the Pacific Classic fortnight, here’s a preliminary look at the 23rd running of Del Mar’s signature event which carries the only remaining seven-figure purse on the Southern California circuit.

Connections for Dullahan have announced intentions for a title defense in the race and when jockey Joel Rosario accepted the mount on Game On Dude, they quickly retained the services of Del Mar’s leading rider, Rafael Bejarano.

Game On Dude, second beaten a half-length in the 2012 Classic, has been impressing clockers with workouts, most recently six furlongs in 1:12.40 on Wednesday. A win for the Dude would make him the second horse to complete what could be termed the Southern California Triple Crown – Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup, Pacific Classic – in the same year behind Lava Man in 2006.

Richard’s Kid, a two-time Classic winner who was third in the 2012 edition, renewed a love affair with the Del Mar polytrack surface in winning the Cougar II Handicap on July 26 – a tune-up event for his 2009 and 2010 wins.

Kettle Corn, winner of the Classic stepping stone San Diego Handicap, is being prepared for the race and trainer John Sadler is also considering a second representative in You Know I Know, a mile race winner on August 3.

Jeranimo, victorious in the meeting turf championship Eddie Read Stakes on July 20, will attempt to complete a Read-Classic double only previously accomplished by Acclamation in 2011.

Foreign flavor will be added with Delegation, a synthetic specialist from Canada for trainer Mark Casse, and Farraaj, a Group stakes winner in England being brought over by trainer Roger Varian.

There are other possibles.

Trainer A.C. Avila has Brazilian-bred Holding Glory, second to You Know I Know in his U.S. debut. “I’m 80 percent thinking the Del Mar Handicap ($200,000, 1 3/8 miles on turf, Saturday, August 24) and 20 percent the Pacific Classic, Avila said.

Trainer Peter Miller said he has not ruled out putting 3-year-old Swaps Stakes winner Chief Havoc in against older in the Classic. “But I’m leaning more to the Del Mar Derby (Grade II $300,000 1 1/8 miles on turf, Sunday, September 1),” Miller said.

There are others being considered whose participation could hinge on developments, especially weather ones, in the Midwest and East. It should make for an interesting fortnight.

 

 

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