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Synthetic specialists pointing for the Pacific Classic

Dullahan Keeneland 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
What do you get when the Woodbine track record holder for 10 furlongs meets the Del Mar track record holder for 10 furlongs? This year’s Pacific Classic, of course! Add in multiple Grade 1 winner Game On Dude, and this year’s edition of one of Del Mar’s signature races is shaping up to be a good one.
It’s no secret that 4-year old Dullahan relishes an all weather track. The chestnut Even the Score colt is a three time Grade 1 winner, and all three of those wins were over an all weather surface. Though he clearly did not like the tapeta course at Meydan as evidenced by his pair of 11th place finishes at that track back in March, he seems to be none the worse for the wear. He finished a very nice third in the G3 Arlington Handicap, contested at 10 furlongs on the turf, just ½ length behind the winner. Of the contingent that traveled to and raced in Dubai, Dullahan has the third best finish in his first start back in America, behind Royal Delta and Trinniberg who both finished 2nd in their respective first-back races.
That third place finish in the Arlington Handicap should translate into a strong performance in the Pacific Classic. Last year Dullahan upset the Pacific Classic in grand fashion. The lone three-year old in a field full of superb older males, Dullahan also had the disadvantage of shipping from the East Coast to the West Coast. But as the field turned for home, it was the chestnut colt bearing the green and yellow Donegal Racing silks that was running the best race of all. Despite being fanned wide coming off the turn, Dullahan blew past favored Game On Dude to stop the clock in a new track record time of 1.59:54. Last year’s Pacific Classic victory was Dullahan’s last visit to the winner’s circle, but with a return to his favorite surface, the Dales Romans trainee stands a good chance of breaking his losing streak.
While Dullahan was contesting the Triple Crown and the prep races leading up to the series, Delegation was still training up to his first race. Even though both are the same age, Delegation had a late start to his career. He made his debut on June 15, 2012, less than a month after he actually turned 3. Since then, he has amassed a 12: 6-3-2 record. He has two Grade 3 victories to his credit, both over Woodbine’s all weather track. Synthetic tracks are clearly his favorite, but he has also proved to be quite versatile. His debut win came on the turf, and he is stakes placed on the grass. He is also Grade 1 placed on the dirt by virtue of a very nice 3rd place finish behind Tapizar and Rail Trip in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
The gelded son of Speightstown absolutely romped in his last start, the G3 Dominion Day Stakes contested at 10 furlongs over Woodbine’s all weather track. Despite a less than stellar start, Delegation seized the lead and never relinquished it in spite of Perfect Afleet’s best efforts. Even though he lost some ground between the first two calls, he steadily increased his margin of advantage from the ½ mile call to the wire. He charged home a 9 ¼ length winner and set a new track record of 2.01:51 for the mile and a quarter race. The Pacific Classic will be a huge step up for him, and he’ll have to do better than two-oh-one and change to hold off Dullahan’s late charge.
Delegation will also have to have an answer for Game On Dude on the front end. The Speightstown gelding was allowed to get away with a frolicking 12 clip effort in the Dominion Day, but with Game On Dude mixing it up with him early, he will not be able to get away with such an easy pace. If Game On Dude doesn’t get to the lead first, he will likely pressure Delegation, and other Californian stars have quickly realized that’s a deadly game to play. The Dude is an expert as carrying his speed, and you can either run with him early and fade or let him have things all his own way and try to run him down in the stretch. Once he’s at the front, he’s hard to catch, and only Dullahan has managed that feat since Drosselmeyer famously caught The Dude late in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
With still over a month to go between now and Pacific Classic day, there is still plenty of time for others to throw their hat into the ring. Perhaps Clubhouse Ride and Kettle Corn will return to take another shot at heavyweight Game On Dude, who has been continuously running roughshod over the duo for the past year. Maybe Richard’s Kid will attempt to win his third Pacific Classic after missing the 2011 running and falling short by 3 ¼ lengths to finish third in last year’s edition. No matter who else joins the fray, the place where the turf meets the surf looks like the place to be come August 25. 


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Older Comments about Synthetic specialists pointing for the Pacific Classic...

The Dude may not have given us a reason to doubt his thus far this season, but don't let his Gold Cup performance fool you. On synthetics, Game On Dude is a step below his best. I really think Dullahan is the one to beat here, especially after the performance he put in last out.
I just love the doctor-speak.
what gene loci account for conformation, speed, stamina...We simply don't know and even if we did how could you be assured that that complement was in ONE particular ova or sperm?
I'll stick with the Dude if he runs in the Pacific Classic. Why? It looks like this is his best year. He hasn't given me any reason to pick against him.
If he races I'll pick him but seeing paynter and game on dude facing off would pull my heart strings to much
If Delegation goes in this race I see Game on Dude losing and maybe not hitting the board. If Dullahan beats him it'll go against his career that he lost to an average horse due his incosistancy. I wish they would of strictly kept him on synthetics because in the states he's one of the best synthetic horses.
Both have similar racing styles as well
Do you think Baffert will run him in the San Diego AND the Pacific Classic?
Paynter could add to the excitement.

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