Endorsement Will Be Winging in Pacific Classic

When Endorsement drew the least-favored No. 1 post for Sunday’s $1 million TVG Pacific Classic, some longtime racing followers immediately prophesized that it would mean the 6-year-old son of Distorted Humor would have to be sent for the lead from the start.

The veracity of such speculation, of course, won’t be revealed until the gates spring open at approximately 5:45 Sunday afternoon. Hector Palma, trainer of Endorsement, wasn’t inclined to endorse or refute it Friday morning.

“We’ll talk it over with  (jockey) Julien (Leparoux) and decide about strategy later,” Palma said from a table at the track kitchen. “He’s ridden the horse before and he knows him well. From the No. 1 post, you hope to get a good break and good position.

“A lot depends on how the horses outside you break too. You might have a chance (to recover from a rough start) in the cheaper races, but in the big races it’s a lot tougher to do. I just hope everybody gets a clean break and has a safe race.”

The Pacific Classic will be the second start for Endorsement since he was privately purchased by the B G Stable of Los Angeles businessman George Yager and Palma in the wake of a third-place finish in an optional claiming event at Churchill Downs on the eve of the Kentucky Derby. Long term, Palma said, the plan is to make Endorsement a California-based sire.

His first start for Palma, in the Wickerr Stakes at one mile on the grass on July 24, resulted in a runner-up finish behind Indy Point – who went on to the Arlington Million – while setting the pace for the first six furlongs (1:09.20) of the mile turf run.

“He ran a super race for his first time on the grass and came out of it so strong that I decided to take a longshot shot (in the Pacific Classic),” Palma said. Endorsement, 20-1 on oddsmaker Russ Hudak’s morning line, will be the first Pacific Classic starter for the 76-year-old Palma.

Victor Espinoza was aboard for the Wickerr.  Leparoux, who last rode Endorsement in a race in February of 2012, has been aboard for six-furlong workouts of 1:12.20 on August 9 and 1:12.00 on August 16, both of which were the fastest of the day at the distance.

“The (official) clockers had him going a little faster than I did. I’m hoping they were clocking the wrong horse,” Palma said, laughing.

Two Other Graded Stakes Spice Pacific Classic Day Card

While the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic commands most of the attention, two other graded stakes earlier on the program will contribute to making Sunday the most significant of the meeting from a racing standpoint.

Those races are the Grade II $200,000 Del Mar Mile Handicap and the Grade II $250,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes. The Del Mar Mile Handicap goes as the fifth, the Pat O’Brien the seventh and the Pacific Classic the ninth events on an 11-race card.

The Del Mar Mile Handicap drew a field of five for the turf run. It will mark the comeback from a two-month layoff for defending race champion Obviously. The 5-year-old Irish-bred gelding, trained by Mike Mitchell and ridden by Joe Talamo won the Grade II American Handicap in May and the Shoemaker Mile in June at Hollywood Park to boost his record to five wins in six turf mile assignments.

The string was begun with two wins at Del Mar in 2012, the second being by nosing out Mr. Commons in the Del Mar Mile Handicap in a course record 1:32.10. Obviously’s only loss at a mile on turf in the past year was a third to 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile in November at Santa Anita.

Obviously is highweighted at 125 pounds, conceding 6-8 pounds to his four rivals. The field from the rail out consists of:

He Be Fire N Ice (Victor Espinoza, 117, 12-1), Tigah (Joel Rosario, 118, 4-1), Silentio (Rafael Bejarano, 119, 7-2), Obviously (Joe Talamo, 125, 3-5) and El Commodore (Garrett Gomez, 117, 6-1)

A field of 13 has been entered for the 7-furlong Pat O’Brien, which is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series race and a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on November 2 at Santa Anita.

Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents, second to Points Offthebench in the Bing Crosby Handicap on July 28, is back for the second of Del Mar’s sprint stakes. The 3-year-old son of Into Mischief gets a rider switch to national leader Joel Rosario, who is making a one-day visit from his East Coast base for the Pacific Classic Day stakes.

The O’Brien field from the rail out consists of:

Mobilized (Corey Nakatani, 12-1), Gonna Fly Now (Joe Talamo, 8-1), Goldencents (Joel Rosario, 5-2), Great Hot (Chantal Sutherland-Kruse, 30-1), Majestic City (Edwin Maldonado, 15-1), Fed Biz (Martin Garcia, 9-2), Handsome Mike (Mario Gutierrez, 15-1), Wine Police (Garrett Gomez, 12-1), Batti Man (Brice Blanc, 10-1), Drill (Rafael Bejarano, 6-1), No Silent (Gary Stevens, 12-1), Royal F J (Martin Pedroza, 30-1) and Morning Line (Julien Leparoux, 10-1).

Pacific Specifics

First post on TVG Pacific Classic Day, Sunday, August 25, will be 1 p.m., an hour earlier than usual. Gates will open at 10:30 a.m.

The Pacific Classic is scheduled as the  ninth on an 11-race card with an approximate post time of 5:18 p.m.

Fans will receive a long sleeve Del Mar T-shirt, free with admission, while supplies last.



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