Pacific Classic and Del Mar Handicap Featured Breeders’ Cup Challenge Races
A big weekend of racing is set at Del Mar racetrack with a pair of Breeders’ Cup Challenge races setting the stage with Arrogate (1-1 favorite) headlining the featured $1 Million TVG Pacific Classic. The world’s No. 1 race horse is trained by Bob Baffert, who has captured
the Pacific Classic four times. Baffert will also run Collected (5-2) in the race. Arrogate’s jockey Mike Smith is tied with the late Garrett Gomez with the most Pacific Classic wins by a jockey with four. All eyes will be on Arrogate again, as he’s the defending Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and will take tons of money again at the betting windows.
The other leading contender in the 1 ¼ mile Pacific Classic is Accelerate (3-1), who pulled the stunning upset over Arrogate in last month’s San Diego Handicap at Del Mar. Accelerate trainer John Sadler is also running Hard Aces (20-1) while trainer Doug O’Neill runs a pair with Donworth (15-1) and Curlin Road (20-1) shooting for the shocking upset. The Desormeaux brothers, rider Kent and trainer Keith, have the longest shot in the field with Sorry Erik (30-1).
The race before the Pacific Classic is the Del Mar Handicap, with 13 colts galloping 1 3/8 miles on the turf. The morning line favorite is Hunt (IRE) at 3-1. Hunt won the $250,000 Eddie Read Stakes last month at Del Mar. Itsinthepost (4-1) is a strong challenger after winning a pair of Grade II marathon’s at 1 ½ miles in the spring. He had a string of 7-straight races finishing 1st or 2nd since last October before a pair of 5th place finishes recently including in the Grade I United Nations. Don’t count out Ashleyluvssugar (7-2) ridden by Gary Stevens, who finished a close 2nd to Hunt in the Eddie Read and has won 10 of 23 lifetime starts with 18 in the money finishes as the leading money winner in the field with more than $1.3 million in career earnings.
In Saturday’s race 6 just before the two big Breeders’ Cup Challenge races, 2-year-old maiden fillies will sprint 6 furlongs. Tyfosha has finished 2nd in both her maiden starts, and she had the lead at the half-mile marker in her last race. If you’re handicapping the Del Mar sprints, then you can see the strong stats of runners on the lead in sprint races at the Del Mar summer meet despite reports of the track being deeper and slower than in the past.
The Del Mar stakes schedule has 41 stakes races during the current meet, including 5 Breeders’ Cup Challenge races which awards the winner an automatic fees-paid invitation to the 2017 Breeders’ Cup on Nov. 3-4 at Del Mar. All five races are for 3-year-olds and up, and the one race for fillies saw the magnificent mare Stellar Wind win for the 5th time in her last six starts. Stellar wind returns to this year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff after finishing 4th with a bad break from the gate in last year’s edition and fantastic finish between Beholder over Songbird.
Saturday, Aug. 19 will feature 2 of those Breeders’ Cup Challenge races and includes the Pacific Classic.
Date Race Distance Purse BC Division Winner
7-29 Bing Crosby Stakes 6 Furlongs $300,000 Sprint Ransom the Moon
7-30 Clement L. Hirsch. 1 1/16 Miles $300,000 Distaff Stellar Wind
8-19 Del Mar Handicap 1 3/8 Miles (T) $250,000 Turf ?
8-19 TVG Pacific Classic 1 ¼ Mile $1,000,000 Classic ?
8-26 Pat O’Brien Handicap 7 Furlongs $200,000 Dirt Mile ?
The Pacific Classic will be broadcast on NBCSN from 8 – 9 p.m. ET (5 – 6 p.m. local PT), with post time at 5:45 PT as part of the NBC network’s “Win and You’re In” series coverage.