Baffert happy with outside post for Arrogate in Pacific Classic
August 16, 2017 12:19pm
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Photo: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

Arrogate drew the outside post and was established as the even-money morning line favorite as a field of eight was entered for Saturday’s 27th running of the Grade I $1 million TVG Pacific Classic.

The field, from the rail out, with riders and morning line odds: Royal Albert Hall (Corey Nakatani, 30-1), Collected (Martin Garcia, 5-2), Accelerate (Victor Espinoza, 3-1), Sorry Erik (Kent Desormeaux, 30-1), Hard Aces (Santiago Gonzalez, 20-1), Donworth (Mario Gutierrez, 15-1), Curlin Road (Flavien Prat, 20-1) and Arrogate (Mike Smith, 1-1).

“It’s a good draw, I’m happy with it,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said of the post for Arrogate, the No. 1 rated and all-time highest earning horse in North America. Baffert will saddle both Arrogate, an earner of more than $17 million in nine career starts but a shocking fourth of five in the San Diego Handicap here on July 22, and Collected.

“It’s (the draw) not that big of a deal,” Baffert continued Wednesday morning. “In a mile-and-a-quarter race there’s a long run to the turn to get positioned. I would have preferred to have Collected more outside, but he should be fine from where he is.”

John Sadler, trainer of San Diego Handicap winner Accelerate, expressed content with his horse’s No. 3 draw and provided a picture of the race from his perspective.

“I was happy to draw outside of Collected, so it’s a good draw for us,” Sadler said. “It’s pretty simple. Collected is going to go the front, (Accelerate) is going to sit second and Arrogate is going to sit third.”

Despite the San Diego result, track oddsmaker Russ Hudak said he was never tempted to make Arrogate anything but the favorite. Arrogate was a morning-line 1-5 for the San Diego and went off at 1-20.

“As soon as the San Diego was over they started training him for this, and everything has gone well,” Hudak said. “I thought (even money) was a good starting point.”

The dreaded No. 1 post went to Royal Albert Hall, so it was unsurprising when trainer Kristin Mulhall said “No,” albeit with a smile, when asked for her thoughts.

“It seems like I’ve been drawing the No. 1 a lot lately,” Mulhall said.

Mulhall decided to enter Royal Albert Hall, a recent $50,000 claim, with the idea of trying the English-bred 5-year-old on dirt. A half-mile work in :47 flat on Monday was enough to prompt entry.

“We worked him behind horses and the dirt (kickback) in his face didn’t bother him,” Mulhall said. “He’s worked well on dirt, so we might take a chance. It’s an experiment. I’m not sure we’re going to run, it depends on who comes out and who stays. If it’s a five-horse field we’ll run, if there’s six, we probably won’t.”

Keith Desormeaux, trainer of 3-year-old Sorry Erik, thought the No. 4 was a good post, but said he’ll have to do some serious thinking before fully committing to the Classic. The Grade II $250,000 Del Mar Derby, at 1 1/8 miles on grass September 3, beckons.

“He runs well on dirt or turf and he’ll love the mile and a quarter, so there is some inclination to run,” Desormeaux said. “But in all probability, we won’t. The Del Mar Derby is the goal. If the field comes up with any more than five, I’ll wait for the Del Mar Derby.”

Sadler did not enter Hard Aces in Saturday’s Del Mar Handicap as he had previously indicated he might. That would have meant withdrawing the veteran handicap division runner from the Pacific Classic. Sadler said he’ll monitor developments in the coming days before making a decision.

Horses can be scratched as late as two hours before the race, which has a post time of approximately 5:40 as the eighth on an 11-race card. The TVG Pacific Classic is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic here on November 4.

Source: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club


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