The only million dollar race left on California’s racing schedule is upon us, as the 20th running of the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar highlights a magnificent day of racing around the country.
Last year’s winner Richard’s Kid (pictured) is back to defend his crown against some of the top older males in the country. He’s only won once since last year’s victory, but has been victimized by unfavorable pace scenarios in his last three.
Awesome Gem will look to win two in a row off his score in the Hollywood Gold Cup and has never been better for trainer Craig Dollase.
The morning line favorite is The Usual Q.T., who has won 8 of 10 starts on turf, but only has three second place finished to show for his five starts on synthetic.
The graded stakes action starts in the fourth race with the Grade 2 $250,000 Del Mar Mile run over the turf course and concludes with the Grade 1 $300,000 Pat O’Brien going seven furlongs on the main track in the tenth race.
Don’t forget, I’ll be back on set with Ken Rudulph for TVG’s Fandicapping between 6:30-7 PM PDT. If you don’t get TVG, you can also catch the show on Fox Sports Prime Ticket.
We’re off to the races!
Leg 1 – Race 8 (2,3,6,9) – Not often do we get to kick off the Pick 4 with the Grade 1 Pacific Classic.
My top pick is No. 6 Richard’s Kid, who should get a fair pace to chase today and can win the big race for the second straight year.
We’ll also use No. 9 Awesome Gem who is in the best form of his career at the age of seven, No. 3 Dakota Phone who finally broke through with a win last time, and No. 2 Isle of Giant’s who could sneak away to a clear early lead which is always dangerous.
Leg 2 – Race 9 (1,3,4,10,13) – A mile on the turf for California-bred females in this optional claiming event and we’ll go four deep.
No. 1 Thisoneforyou missed by a head to the nice filly La Nez in the Fleet Treat and she’s already proven she can go two turns.
No. 3 Melbisha has two wins and five second place finishes in her last seven starts, making her dangerous coming from off the pace.
No. 4 Taxi Ride stretches back out to the distance where she won her career debut and has reportedly come out of her last race well in the morning.
No. 10 Ashee missed by less than a length against Warren’s Jitterbug, who came back to win a stakes race. That was her first try around two turns so she has a license to improve here and gets Garrett Gomez to take over for the injured Joe Talamo. First win of the meet for Jeff Mullins here?
No. 13 Sandy Cheeks has been looking for the perfect spot to run, and while this is an easier spot than where she’s been entered, the outside post isn’t ideal. However, she gets the services of Rafael Bejarano, who can maneuver as much of a ground saving trip as possible for her.
Leg 3 - Race 10 (6) – The Pat O’Brien lost some luster with three scratches.
No. 6 Crown of Thorns is the clear class of the field having missed by just a nose in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in his previous start. The layoff is a concern, but he’s run well fresh in the past and there should be enough speed to set up his closing kick.
No. 8 Smiling Tiger got things all his own way on the front end in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby, but there is other speed here to keep him honest early today.
Leg 4 – Race 11 (1,2,4,5,6) – Two-year-old California-bred fillies sprint five and a half furlongs in this maiden special weight affair to close things out. Hopefully, we’re alive to these five and can get a nice price to cash with.
Recap – (2,3,6,9) w (1,3,4,10,13) w (6) w (1,2,4,5,6) – Total cost of ticket = $50
Make sure to follow me on Twitter @mdoche for last minute changes caused by scratches.
Yesterday’s Result – (-$72)
Total for meet – (-$808)