We read through the press kit for today’s 22nd running of the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic (to save PC logoyou the time and bother, no thanks necessary) and came up with the following. In post position order.
If Rail Trip wins: It would be the crowning moment in an excellent meeting for trainer Ron Ellis who has already won the San Diego Handicap with Rail Trip, Clement L. Hirsch with Include Me Out and Saturday’s Del Mar Handicap with Casino Host … Would put jockey Jose Valdivia, Jr., and owner Samantha Siegel of Jay Em Ess Stable in the Pacific Classic winner’s circle for the first time in four, and two, tries respectively … Would make Rail Trip, 7, the oldest Classic champion, surpassing Pleasantly Perfect, who won it at six in 2004.
If Richard’s Kid wins: It would make the son of Lemon Drop Kid the first three-time winner of the Classic and, of course, the first to do so for two different trainers and three different owners … Would put Leandro Mora’s name on the list of winning trainers which includes Doug O’Neill, the man he’s replacing while O’Neill serves a 40-day suspension, and two other trainers in the race, Bob Baffert and Ron McAnally … Would make Richard’s Kid, 7, the oldest winner, surpassing Pleasantly Perfect, who won at six in 2004.
If Where’s Sterling wins: It would reverberate in Florida, where trainer Luis Ramirez and jockey Paco Lopez are based, and in Chicago, where owner Frank Calabrese, 74, resides, and in the Del Mar stable area, where Ramirez got his start in 1995 and where his father and brother still work … Would make for a good first impression of Del Mar for Lopez, who has never ridden here before.
If Dullahan wins: It would make Dullahan only the third horse in Pacific Classic history to win without being last raced at either Del Mar or Hollywood Park, joining Bertrando (’93, Monmouth) and Student Council ’07, Churchill Downs) … Would make Dullahan the fourth 3-year-old to defeat older in the Classic, joining Best Pal ’91, General Challenge ’99 and Came Home ’02.
If Akkadian wins: Would provide script material for HBO’s “Luck” (oops, that series was cancelled) since major character Turo Escalante was based on real-life trainer Julio Canani …Would get the name of Tiznow (sire of Akkadian) back on the Pacific Classic charts and fuel memories of Tiznow’s gallant runner-up to Skimming as a 3-year-old in the 2000 Pacific Classic … Would put jockey Martin Garcia into quadruple figures for career victories if he hasn’t made it with one of two prior mounts on the card. Garcia starts the day with 999 career wins.
If Jaycito wins: It might soothe some of the sting out of Triple Crown runner-up finishes by Bodemeister in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Paynter in the Belmont Stakes for owner/trainer combination of Ahmed Zayat and Bob Baffert … Would move Baffert out of a tie for second with fellow Hall of Famer Richard Mandella for Pacific Classic victories, currently three apiece, and closer to all-time leader Bobby Frankel’s six.
If Suggestive Boy wins: Would become the third Argentine-bred Classic victor, joining Gentlemen ’97 and Candy Ride ’03, the latter of whom provided Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally with his only Pacific Classic win from 10 starters …Would make Joe Talamo, 22 years, seven months and 14 days old, the second-youngest to win the Classic behind Kent Desormeaux, who was 22 years, 6 months and 3 days old winning aboard Missionary Ridge in 1992.
If Game On Dude wins: It would make Chantal Sutherland the second female jockey to win the Classic (Julie Krone ’03) and the first to win all three major California races for older horses, the 2011 Santa Anita Handicap, 2012 Hollywood Gold Cup and 2012 Pacific Classic, all on Game On Dude …The ‘Dude would become the third horse to complete the triple, joining Lava Man , Classic winner of 2006, and Best Pal, winner of the inaugural Pacific Classic in 1991.
If Riveting Reason wins: The payoff for the longest morning line (30-1) shot in the race might approach or exceed the Classic record $81.20 for Dare And Go over Cigar in the 1996 running …It will be the second victory for jockey David Flores (General Challenge ’99) , who has been second three times … Myung Kwon Cho would be the first owner/trainer to win a Classic, and do so with his first starter.
MEET JERRY KIRKE, MR. DULLAHAN WEST
While discussing, in early August, sending Dullahan to Del Mar for the TVG Pacific Classic, Donegal Racing head Jerry Crawford made it a point to mention one partner in the partnership of the Blue Grass Stakes winner who would be particularly energized by the development.
“Jerry Kirke thinks there are only two racetracks in America,” Crawford said. “Del Mar and Santa Anita.”
Apprised of Crawford’s comment at Wednesday’s draw party at the Burlap Restaurant in Del Mar, Kirke first dissolved into laughter. Then recovered to plead guilty.
“It’s true, I love the Southern California tracks,” Kirke said. “I’ve been banging the drum for something like this for about three years. ‘Let’s go to Del Mar. Let’s go to the Pacific Classic.’ I’m ecstatic and Donegal Racing is ecstatic.”
His vision will become reality when Dullahan faces nine older horses in the signature race of the meeting.
“Several of the other 3-year-olds that ran in the Triple Crown are either retired or taking a break from racing,” Kirke said. “To have Dullahan being active and training forwardly for the Pacific Classic is amazing. We’re up against a tough group of older horses, but we’re on his favorite surface and hopefully he’ll revert to the form he’s shown on it at Keeneland in the past.”
Kirke, 40, is in the investment business and has lived in Phoenix for the past 17 years. He was originally from Des Moines, Iowa, home of Crawford and the Donegal partnership organization. Kirke’s father was the go-between for his son and Crawford.
Of the approximately 25 partners in Dullahan, Kirke said he might be the most Western resident and was therefore the designated representative to the draw party. He has managed to be in attendance at all but one of Dullahan’s races. The miss was for the forgettable fifth-of-six finish in the Haskell Invitational, beaten 13 ½ lengths.
TVG PACIFIC CLASSIC PICK ’EM PALS MAKE IT A FIVE-HORSE RACE
A sampling of TVG Pacific Classic selections from an eclectic group of “experts,” selected mainly on availability and willingness.
Craig Fravel, President and CEO Breeders’ Cup Ltd. – Game On Dude. “Best past performances and been there before in big races.”
Joe Harper, President , CEO, Director Del Mar Thoroughbred Club – Suggestive Boy. “I’ve always liked Argentines.”
Josh Rubinstein , DMTC Senior Vice President, Development – Game On Dude. “Del Mar’s cover girl, Chantal Sutherland, is riding.”
Julie Krone, Hall of Fame jockey – “Isn’t there a filly in there? Amani.”
Corey Nakatani, out-of-town-today jockey – Richard’s Kid.
Hank Goldberg, ESPN sportscaster – Suggestive Boy. “I think he’ll like the distance and McAnally is confident.
Jay Privman, Daily Racing Form – Game On Dude. “The leading candidate for Horse of the Year right now.”
Jay Hovdey, Daily Racing Form – Amani. “Neil Drysdale needs a break.”
Bob Ike, syndicated handicapper – Game On Dude. “The best horse, I see a pace advantage and I think Bob Baffert is highly motivated.”
John Sadler, trainer – Richard’s Kid. “Proven over the track.”
Brian Beach, jockey agent – Game On Dude. “He’ll be hard to beat, but if there is an upset, I think it will be Ron McAnally with Suggestive Boy.”
Toby Turrell, handicapper – Suggestive Boy. “Because I don’t want to pick the favorite.”
Gator Pegram, DMTC intern – Amani. “I’m going with the shocker.”
Barry Abrams, trainer – Game On Dude. “Speed, class and experience going the mile and a quarter.”
Steve Andersen, Daily Racing Form – Suggestive Boy. “There’s a lot of room for improvement.”
Brad Free, Daily Racing Form – Game On Dude. “Best horse, and his speed sets up a favorable pace scenario.”
Ed Zieralski , U-T San Diego – Suggestive Boy. “The Ron McAnally and Joe Talamo factor.”
Jay Posner, U-T San Diego – Game On Dude. “I love the taste of chalk.”
Jeff Bloom, DMTC – Rail Trip. “Coming up to a peak performance.”
Jeff Nahill, North County Times – Amani. “Keys a female-centric exacta with Chantal Sutherland (rider of Game On Dude).”
Jeff Reichert, fan – Suggestive Boy. “Visually impressive winning the Wickerr.”
Kevin Modesti, L.A. Daily News – Game On Dude. “He’s better than last summer .”
Richard Mandella, Hall of Fame trainer – Suggestive Boy. “McAnally’s getting old enough to where he needs to get it done.”
Hap Proctor, Glen Hill Farm – “I’m rootin’ for Ron McAnally.”
Gary Mandella, trainer – Amani. “She’ll make the last run the best one.”
PICK SIX CARRYOVER MAKES BIG DAY EVEN BIGGER
A Pick Six carryover of $570,012 was realized Saturday at Del Mar as a parade of longshots rang the bell setting up a multi-million dollar likelihood for the extended bet on the seaside track’s TVG Pacific Classic Day card Sunday.
The carryover – which followed a $104,772 carryover from the Friday card –- saw $870,889 in new money chase the elusive target and bring the total Saturday pool to $975,661. Sunday’s bet will be held on races six through 11 on the 11-race program that has an early first post of 1 p.m. The Pick Six spread Sunday will include the $1-million TVG Pacific Classic.
The carryover was the 11th of the Del Mar meet in its 29th day of racing. The payoffs on the six Saturday horses included five double-figure winners, led by the seventh-race upsetter Hadfunlastnight at $58.60.
MITCHELL CAMP RELOADS WITH CAMP VICTORY
Dhaamer was fine after a runner-up effort in Saturday’s Del Mar Handicap and the mood at Mike Mitchell’s stable Sunday morning was forward looking toward Sunday’s $250,000 Grade II Pat O’Brien Stakes and its standout sprinter Camp Victory.
Mitchell assistant Phil D’Amato said “we’re toying with the idea” of running Dhaamer next in the Canadian International in October at Woodbine in aiming to restart a stakes winning streak that ended with the neck loss to Casino Host in the Grade II $200,000 Del Mar Handicap.
“The winner ran a great race and considering they went 1:16 (for three quarters) and 1:39 (mile), he closed really well even though he had to weave in and out (through traffic),” D’Amato said.
The Del Mar Handicap was a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf on November 3 at Santa Anita, which is where Casino Host will be pointed, trainer Ron Ellis said after the race.
Mitchell’s Camp Victory is the 9-5 second choice behind 8-5 Coil in the morning line for the Pat O’Brien, which drew a field of six.
Camp Victory took the Grade I Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park on June 30 and has been “training very well,” for the O’Brien, D’Amato said.
JOCKEY NOTES, UPDATES
Back-to-back wins in the fourth and fifth races Saturday put Martin Garcia at 999 for his career. The 27-year-old native of Veracruz, Mexico has four mounts today – Denzel, 8-1, 3rd, Vodkatariat, 8-1, 8th and Akkadian, 20-1, Pacific Classic, and Memphis, 5-1, 10th -- in attempting to reach the 1,000 win milestone.
Joe Talamo’s three-win Saturday, topped by Casino Host in the Del Mar Handicap, moved him into a tie for second with Garrett Gomez in the rider standings with 32 each. Rafael Bejarano, in Saratoga to ride Contested to victory in the Test Stakes on Saturday, leads with 43. Bejarano is back at Del Mar and scheduled to ride nine races.
TRAINER NOTES, UPDATES
Peter Miller went 0-for-2 on Saturday attempting to break the tie atop the standings with Doug O’Neill, who is serving a 40-day suspension and will record no more wins here.
With the sixth-race scratch of Flamboyance, Miller has one entered today, Classic Bobby, 3-1, in the 10th.
CLOSERS – Ship And Win bonus eligible horses on today’s program include: Hidden Recipe (1st, Jack Bruner, trainer), Heart of a Lioness (Kristin Mulhall, trainer), Tale of a Champion (7th, Kristin Mulhall)*, Where’s Sterling (9th, Luis Ramirez)*, Dullahan (9th, Dale Romans)*. Asterisk: Eligible for $1,000 travel bonus but not, as stakes entrants, 25 percent purse bonus … Notable workouts Sunday: California Flag, 4 furlongs, :47.40, Empire Way, 4 furlongs, :47.60, Slim Shadey, 4 furlongs, :48.40, Executive Privilege, 6 furlongs, 1:10.80, Kettle Corn, 6 furlongs, 1:12.40, Midnight Interlude, 1:12.20, Champ Pegasus, 4 furlongs turf, :53.20, City to City, 4 furlongs turf, :49.60.. Members of the “America’s Best Racing” crew are in the infield today conducting an ABR Racing 101 Fan Hub. Fans meet with expert handicappers from the team of Horseplayer Now, as well as local horsemen to learn about the Thoroughbred racing experience. They’ve set up shop in an open area just behind the track’s infield big screen.
Trakus Facts of the Day for Saturday, August 25
Casino Host won the Del Mar Handicap by a neck, but second place finisher Dhaamer covered 29 feet more in a great finish. Coming into the race off the Eddie Read, Casino Host had the fastest final quarter and final furlong from that event, won by Acclamation. Interaction, the fifth placer behind Casino Host, covered the equivalent of 4 ¼ lengths more than the winner, but was beaten by only about two lengths.
In race ten, Mavenofwinterset covered 26 feet more than winner Hidden Quest. A long last through most of the race, Mavenofwinterset flew home, getting the final quarter in 23.77 seconds, which was 0.96 seconds faster than any other in the race. At the finish, he was 36.8 feet off the rail, and in the final sixteenth alone, was at least 0.26 seconds faster than any other horse in the race.