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Edited Del Mar Staff Release
–Three of the races on the rich FanDuel Pacific Classic Day card Saturday provided an extra bonus for the winners in the form of an all-expenses-paid entry into a corresponding Breeders’ Cup race.

The Breeders’ Cup will be held this year on November 3 and 4 at Santa Anita Park. The championship events offer a total of $31 million in purses and awards.

The Grade III Green Flash Handicap was captured by Anthony Fanticola’s Motorious who covered the five furlongs on turf in :56.07. The 5-year-old gelding earned a first prize of $90,000, but also earned himself a guaranteed spot in the starting gate with all fees paid for the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

Little Red Feather Racing, Sterling Stables and Marsha Naify’s Gold Phoenix captured the Grade II Del Mar Handicap, racing a mile and three eighths on the turf in 2:15.34. Another 5-year-old gelding, Gold Phoenix not only picked up first-place prize money of $180,000, but assured himself free admittance to the $4-million Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Finally in the big event of the day, the 3-year-old Arabian Knight hung tough for a neck victory over fellow soph Geaux Rocket Ride in the $1-million, Grade I FanDuel Racing Pacific Classic. The Zendan Racing Stables’ colt secured a spot in the starting gate for the nation’s richest race, the $6-million Breeders’ Cup Classic, after covering a mile and a quarter in 2:03.19 and taking home $600,000 in prize money.

The victory by Arabian Knight over a field of mostly older rivals may fortell a Breeders’ Cup Classic this year dominated by 3-year-olds. Geaux Rocket Ride had punched his ticket to the big one when he triumphed in the “Win and You’re In” Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park in his previous race. Arabian Knight had run third in that test.

Also, the star Eastern colt Arcangelo, winner of the Belmont Stakes and the Travers Stakes in his last two starts, is very likely B C Classic-bound, adding some additional soph spice to the mix. Youth is likely to be high on the card come Breeders’ Cup time in November.


No rest for the winning trainers on Sunday. They were all back to work following a memorable day on Saturday. Three conditioners divided-up the five graded stakes races on Pacific Classic Day. Bob Baffert and Phil D’Amato won two each and Doug O’Neill grabbed the other one. It should come as no surprise to anyone that the three winning trainers top the trainer standings at Del Mar heading into Sunday’s racing.

Bob Baffert was back in the grandstand Sunday morning watching some of his horses work. Back at the barn, his Pacific Classic winner, Arabian Knight was resting-up from his race; Baffert indicating the son of Uncle Mo came out of the race fine.

“That was a good race for him,” Baffert says. “He ran hard.”

Arabian Knight punched his ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Classic with his wire-to-wire win Saturday and time will tell as to whether or not he’ll run in a prep before the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita in November.

“We don’t know what we’re going to do there yet,” Baffert says. “We’ll give him a couple weeks.”

Same could be said for his rival Geaux Rocket Ride, who made Arabian Knight work every step of the race, coming up a neck short. It was a winning effort and for that he got to sleep in.

“We haven’t had him out of bed yet,” trainer Richard Mandella said Sunday morning, “but he looked good last night. I think he’ll be all right.”

The son of Candy Ride has already punched his ticket to the Breeders’ Cup with his win over Arabian Knight in the G1 Haskell at Monmouth Park in July.

The third-place finisher in the Pacific Classic also came out of his race in good order. Trainer Doug O’Neill says Slow Down Andy will be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup but he did not mention a prep race for the son of Nyquist.

O’Neill’s assistant, Leandro Mora, was very proud of ‘Andy’.

“He just needs a little change in luck,” Mora says with a smile. “We need Baffert to go somewhere else. He sure can do those big races.”

O’Neill’s graded stakes winner Saturday was Ceiling Crusher, who won the G3 Torrey Pines in front-running fashion. She came out of the race well and future plans are pending. The Cal-bred, who has won five of her six career starts, is not Breeders’ Cup nominated.

Phil D’Amato’s pair of stakes winners, Motorious in the G3 Green Flash and Gold Phoenix in the G2 Del Mar Handicap, both came out of their respective races in good shape. Both won trips to the Breeders’ Cup. Motorious has a date in the Turf Sprint, while Gold Phoenix is headed to the Turf.

Baffert’s other winner on Saturday, Du Jour, won the G2 Del Mar Mile which is not a ‘Win and You’re In’ for the Breeders’ Cup. Baffert did not mention any future plans for the son of Temple City.


Trainer Leonard Powell is in a very enviable position this Labor Day weekend. He already has the top 3-year old grass filly on the Del Mar grounds in Anisette, winner of the G2 San Clemente and then the G1 Del Mar Oaks. Come Sunday evening he could also claim to have the best 3-year-old grass colt. He has one obstacle standing in his way and it’s a big one. The G2 Del Mar Derby.

Maltese Falcon comes into the Derby off an impressive showing in the G3 La Jolla, a race he won from off the pace.

“He got a very good trip being in a pocket inside,” Powell says. “With the three hole we’re going to look for the same kind of trip (in the Derby). It’s a step up in class but we think he’s up to it.”

Maltese Falcon came to Powell’s barn late last year. His win in the La Jolla was his maiden victory.

“We bought him at the Tattersalls sale last year for the Red Baron team,” Powell says. “He’s very straight forward, a lovely horse. He loves the job.”

Standing in his way is Conclude, the Oceanside Stakes winner who hails from the Phil D’Amato barn.

“He showed he can handle two turns last time,” D’Amato says. “It’s another little step up in class but I think he’ll be up for the challenge.”

D’Amato also brings Almendares to the Derby, an English-bred who spent the first part of his career racing in Ireland. In his first race for D’Amato he won an entry level allowance at Del Mar on opening weekend.

“He’s got a nice style to run well in a race like this,” D’Amato says. “He’s tactical, he can come from behind and seems to have a nice late finish. I think Conclude will be sitting one, two, three and Almendares will be farther back and come running late and hopefully one of the two are best in the race.”

John Sadler’s Panic Alarm may have a say in all that. He ran second to Maltese Falcon in the La Jolla in his first race in the states.

“We were very happy with his first race out of Ireland,” Sadler says. “He really ran a nice race. It looks like he’s moved forward since the La Jolla. He wasn’t here that long and now he’s had some time to settle in California. He had a good work on the grass last Sunday.”

Panic Alarm went 5-furlongs in 1:02.80 in Sunday’s work, seventh best out of 23 works at the distance.

The G2 Del Mar Derby was won by Slow Down Andy last year. It’s the 10th race on the 11-race card Sunday. Approximate post time is 6 p.m.

Here’s the field from the rail with the jockeys and the morning odds: Ah Jeez (Tiago Pereira, 15-1); Conclude (Hector Berrios, 9/5); Maltese Falcon (Juan Hernandez, 3-1); Reiquist (Ramon Vasquez, 15-1); Almendares (Antonio Fresu, 3-1); Panic Alarm (Umberto Rispoli, 5-1); Smart Code (Mike Smith, 12-1); Justin’s Legacy (Edwin Maldonado, 15-1), and Kid Azteca (Joe Bravo, 30-1

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