The Pacific Classic

It’s time for the Grade I Pacific Classic, a 10-furlong dirt race from Del Mar. Along with the Del Mar Futurity, it’s one of the high points of a terrific, loaded meet. The race is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic and it’s likely that a couple will point in that direction based on today’s performance. We have a competitive field of 6, with a clear, but not unbeatable favorite. That favorite is Accelerate, trained by John Sadler and ridden by Joel Rosario for the first time. He has a speed edge over the field and he is at his best at 10 furlongs. He loves this distance. He’s 3 for 4 this year overall; and while he lost this race last year, he still ran a 110 Beyer. If he runs his race, it’s his. On the downside, he has been off since the end of May — although some of this has to do with avoiding a confrontation with barn-mate San Diego Handicap (GII) winner Catalina Cruiser.

Dr. Dorr flirted with the possibility of being a top-of-the-division horse earlier this year, especially with his 7 1/4 length win in the GII Californian and accompanying 108 Beyer Speed Figure. He was well-beaten by Catalina Cruiser last time out. He’d need a form reversal — and while there are some factors that hint at that — it’s always tough to bank on a return to a horse’s best in order to win. He is trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Joe Talamo. Bob Baffert has another horse in the race in Roman Rosso. Ths horse has been running in Argentina and Uruguay and gobbling up GI’s. Baffert doesn’t have great first start with trainer records and he’s certainly ambitious with this one. Ultimately, this horse is very hard to gauge, although I’d err on the side of devaluing those South American GI’s and consider this horse for minor placings only. He’s ridden by Flavien Prat.

Prime Attraction is interesting. He’s never run fast enough to win this race and his last dirt campaign never got close to the 104 Beyer again. He comes off a strong performance in the GII Eddie Read on the turf, which is the surface this horse likely needs to be at his best. He could win today, but I’d be more confident if it were on turf. He’s trained by James Cassidy and ridden by Kent Desormeaux. Pavel finally broke through and won the GI Steven Foster at odds of almost 7-1. He had been flirting with being a GI winner since running a 97 Beyer on debut, the GIII Smarty Jones by open lengths, and finishing only 1 3/4 lengths behind Diversify in the GI Jockey Club Gold Cup. The placings this year were ambitious — and he lost to several of these here in the GI Gold Cup at Santa Anita and GII San Pasquel already. If he improved, he’ll still have to improve more to turn the tables on the others. But, as it stands right now, I don’t think he’s fast enough to win. Pavel is trained by Doug O’Neil and ridden by Mario Gutierrez.

The Lieutenant isn’t fast enough to win here, although he has improved as of late. He captured the GIII All American at Golden Gate and then finished second behind Diversify in the Suburban. He’s also the half-brother to Justify, which has helped his breeding value, but hasn’t made him faster.  He could close into an underneath spot, but the top spot seems too ambitious. The horse is trained by Michael McCarthy and ridden by Drayden Van Dyke. Two Thirty Five has climbed from the claiming ranks into a multiple allowance winner.  Racing in routes has made a significant difference for the team of trainer Richard Baltas and jockey Franklin Ceballos. If he likes the added distance and continues at his best form, he’s a longshot contender to win.