Twirling Candy drew post position 10 and was made the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the 21st running of the $1 Million Pacific Classic, Del Mar’s signature race, on Sunday, August 28.
Twirling Candy, owned by Jenny Craig, Marty Wygod and William S. Farish and to be ridden by Joel Rosario, was a narrow choice by track oddsmaker Russ Hudak over Santa Anita Handicap winner Game On Dude. Owned by Diamond Pride LLC, the Lanni Family Trust and Mercedes Stable, Game On Dude will be ridden by Chantal Sutherland and was listed at 3-1 in the morning line.
Eleven horses were entered for the Grade I, 1 1/4-mile event at a post position draw party Wednesday night held at the Rancho Valencia Resort in Rancho Santa Fe.
The eleven, in alphabetical order, are Acclamation (Patrick Valenzuela), Bourbon Bay (Joe Talamo), Don Cavallo (Luis Contreras), Game On Dude (Chantal Sutherland), Great Warrior (Omar Berrio), Jeranimo (Martin Pedroza), Quindici Man (Martin Garcia), Setsuko (Victor Espinoza), Stately Victor (Mike Smith), Tres Borrachos (Rafael Bejarano) and Twirling Candy (Joel Rosario).
The connections for Acclamation, owner Bud Johnston and trainer Don Warren, were undecided between the Pacific Classic and the $200,000 Del Mar Handicap on the Classic undercard before Acclamation worked six furlongs in 1:12.60 handily Monday morning under Patrick Valenzuela. Clockers termed the work “impressive.” And it was, Warren said, the deciding factor.
“He worked the last quarter in :23 and looked great doing it, so we’re going to take a shot,” Warren said of Acclamation, the winner of the Grade I, $300,000 Eddie Read Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf on July 23. “I thought for weeks we should leave him on turf. But you have to reserve your opinion until you see him work (on Polytrack) and after that, we thought we might as well go for the million.”
It will be the sixth Pacific Classic mount for Valenzuela and he’ll be aiming for his second win. The first came on Best Pal in the inaugural Pacific Classic in 1991.
The Pacific Classic is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, which offers a lucrative incentive for the winner beyond the immediate purse payoffs.
Should Acclamation win the Pacific Classic, he would not only earn the $600,000 first-place purse, but also have his entry fees ($150,000) paid for the $5-million Breeders’ Cup Classic, as well as be eligible for a $10,000 “shipping” expense bonus should his connections choose to enter him in North America’s richest race.
And, according to Breeders’ Cup rules, should Acclamation enter and win the Pacific Classic, his owners would have the option to apply the “Win and You’re In” entry monies earned toward another Breeders’ Cup race – the Turf, for instance. Since his Classic entry money is well above that required for the Turf, his entry fee for the turf would be fully covered.
But before Acclamation could enter either of the Breeders’ Cup races, he’ll have to become eligible for the late-season championship events, something that has not happened to this point. His owners would have to pay a $100,000 nomination fee, which would make him eligible for any Breeders’ Cup race this year or for the rest of his racing career. It would have to be paid by October 24.
Bourbon Bay, winner of the Grade III, $125,000 Cougar II Handicap on July 29, at 1 ½ miles on the main track, is expected to be entered Thursday in Sunday’s $200,000, Grade II Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on the turf and may opt for that race over the Pacific Classic.
Wednesday morning, Bourbon Bay worked four furlongs in :49 2/5 over the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.
In post-position order, the field is: