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Thirteen Entered in Pacific Classic

A field of 13 has been entered for Sunday’s Grade I $1 million TVG Pacific Classic. Post positions will be drawn Wednesday evening for the 23rd running of the signature event of the Del Mar summer meeting at a draw party starting at 6:30 at the Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa in Rancho Santa Fe.

The field, in alphabetical order, includes:

Blueskiesnrainbows (Martin Pedroza), Byrama (Gary Stevens), Delegation (Luis Contreras), Dullahan (Rafael Bejarano), Endorsement (Julien Leparoux), Farraaj (Garrett Gomez), Game On Dude (Joel Rosario), Holding Glory (Chantal Sutherland-Kruse), Jeranimo (Corey Nakatani), Kettle Corn (Victor Espinoza), Liaison (Martin Garcia), Richard’s Kid (Joe Talamo) and You Know I Know (Edwin Maldonado).

Dullahan is the defending race champion with career earnings of more than $1.7 million. Game On Dude seeks to become only the second horse to win California’s three biggest races – the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup and Pacific Classic – in the same year.

Richard’s Kid is a two-time Classic winner (2009-2010) who could become the first three-time winner and with the unlikely circumstance of doing it for three different owners.

Farraaj Travels Over 5,000 Miles To Familiar Ground

Joanne Banks is the “traveling head girl” for the stable of English trainer Roger Varian. Emphasis on travel.

“Oh yes, I’ve been all around the world,” Banks said recently. “Hong Kong, Singapore, Italy, Germany, Turkey. You name it I’ve been there.”

And now, Del Mar.

Last week, Banks and exercise rider Daria Wozny were dispatched, along with 4-year-old gelding Farraaj, on an approximate 5,400-mile, three-day  journey from Newmarket, England to Del Mar to get the horse in place for a run in Sunday’s $1 million TVG Pacific Classic.

They left Newmarket on Tuesday for Prestwick Airport in Edinborough, Scotland and an overnight stay. They flew out the next morning, Wozny with the horse on a cargo plane and Banks on an earlier commercial flight, to Los Angeles where Farraaj stayed for a required 42 hours in quarantine. Then, on Friday, a four-hour van ride brought them from L.A. to Del Mar.

“But he took it all in his stride and now we’re just gently building him into his training routine for (the Classic),” Banks said. “As trips go it was good. Some can be long with a lot of waiting but on the whole this was good and he took it in stride and ate well the whole time, which is the main thing.

“Since we’ve come out of quarantine he’s acting like ‘Thank God the journey’s over, now I know why I’m here. There’s been (live) racing on  since he got here and it hasn’t bothered him, which is also good.”

It is the second trip stateside for Farraaj, an Irish-bred son of Dubai Destination. He finished third at Churchill Downs in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Returned to England, Farraaj has two wins in four starts over the past two years. Both came on the synthetic surface at Lingfield, England – the Blue Square Bet Churchill Stakes last  November and the Blue Square Bet Winter Derby, a Group 3 event, in March. Both were at the Pacific Classic distance of 1 ¼ miles.

Which explains, in large part, the reasons for his journey.

“Roger made his decision on that a month or so ago,” Banks said. “He considered some other races, but he’s had his heart set on this track for awhile now.

(Farraaj) loves the (synthetic) surface, which is what we train on back at home,” Banks said. “Which is what we’ve come for mainly, the surface, and it looks as though it will suit him also.”

Farraaj has been routinely exercising over the Polytrack since last Saturday. Garrett Gomez, who will ride in the Pacific Classic, is going to take him for a more vigorous one Thursday morning.

And world traveler Banks’ first impression of Del Mar?

“It’s a lovely place. You won’t find any prettier.”

Pacific Specifics

The TVG Pacific Classic will be the 9th race on an 11-race card Sunday at Del Mar with a special first post of 1 p.m. Post time for the big race should be approximately 5:45 p.m. Also on the program that day are the Grade II $250,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes at seven furlongs and the Grade $200,000 Del Mar Mile on the turf course.

Nakatani Takes Call On Jeranimo For Pacific Classic

The long-running mystery concerning who would ride Eddie Read winner Jeranimo in the Pacific Classic ended late Thursday morning when trainer Mike Pender named Corey Nakatani aboard the 7-year old son of Congaree.

It will be the 15th Pacific Classic assignment for Nakatani, 42. He won the 2006 Classic aboard Lava Man and had seconds with Gentlemen in 1999 and Crowded House in 2010.



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