Pacific Classic to be Seeking the Soul's final Breeders' Cup prep

August 15, 2019 10:29am

Seeking the Soul earned favoritism for Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million TVG Pacific Classic thanks to a big effort last out in winning the Stephen Foster Stakes (G2).

At 3-1, the 6-year-old Dallas Stewart trainee is by no means a runaway favorite with six of the nine other runners – Pavel (7-2), Quip (9-2), Campaign (6-1), Higher Power (8-1), Tenfold (8-1) and War Story (8-1) – at single-digit odds on Del Mar’s morning line.

“I mean, I feel like we’re a legit contender and he’s a legit horse,” Stewart said of Seeking the Soul, who drew post No. 5. “He’s coming out of a big race, so that probably makes him the favorite. 

“But it’s a $1 million race going a mile and a quarter – nice horses, great trainers. It’s going to be a tough race. Don’t kid yourself. That’s the way I feel. Be ready and I think he’s ready.”

Seeking the Soul’s Stephen Foster win at Churchill Downs was another milestone in a career that’s seen the Charles Fipke homebred collect $3,335,802 over 27 starts.

In the Stephen Foster, Seeking the Soul rallied in deep stretch to pass Tom’s d’Etat and Quip, prevailing over the latter by a neck.

Seeking the Soul’s thrilling victory also came with a Breeders’ Cup Classic “Win and You’re In” berth. That $6 million race will take place up the California coast from Del Mar on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park.

Stewart hoped to enter Seeking the Soul in the 2018 Classic at Churchill, but the horse didn’t qualify and instead ran in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Seeking the Soul came up second in that race to City of Light, just as he did Jan. 26 in Gulfstream Park’s Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1).

Now, Seeking the Soul has his Classic berth thanks to the Stephen Foster score. Saturday’s Pacific Classic is another “Win and You’re In” event in that division and Seeking the Soul’s nine rivals will seek a ticket he already holds.

Stewart plans for the Pacific Classic to be Seeking the Soul’s only race leading up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“There are legit horses,” Stewart said of the Pacific Classic field. “We’ll just see how it goes. We’ve got great credentials coming into the race.”

Saturday will mark only the second time Stewart, who primarily trains in Kentucky and Louisiana, has run at Del Mar. The other time came in 2017, when his star mare Forever Unbridled captured the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Stewart chose the Pacific Classic over a Saratoga start largely because Seeking the Soul struggled last year at the Spa. The son of Perfect Soul finished 13th of 14 in the 2018 Woodward (G1), 11 ½ lengths back of winner Yoshida.

Seeking the Soul stepped onto Del Mar’s dirt for the first time Wednesday. Stewart said the horse’s exercise rider told him the Pacific Classic favorite took well to the track.

Jockey John Velazquez will pilot Seeking the Soul 1 ¼ miles over that surface Saturday.

“It’s great to be here,” Stewart said. “There’s great history. It’s just a wonderful place. We’ve only raced one horse out here, and that was Forever Unbridled. … It was a great day. 

“Now we feel like we’ve got a legitimate shot with this horse. We’re going to hopefully enjoy every minute we’re here.”

2019 Pacific Classic (G1)

 

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