DEL MAR, CA – For the second consecutive year, Hronis Racing and trainer John Sadler found their way to the winner’s circle in the $1,000,000 TVG Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) at Del Mar, this time thanks to a terrific performance from Higher Power on Saturday.
The Pacific Classic is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Higher Power receiving an automatic berth in the Classic at Santa Anita Park this November.
With the meet’s leading jockey Flavien Prat aboard for the first time, Higher Power settled into a stalking position not far behind early leader Quip. The invading Quip set out to post fractions of :23.68, :47.69, and 1:12.65, all the while Higher Power watched closely.
Leaving the backstretch, Higher Power sidled up alongside – and soon swept past – Quip to take hold of the lead. Mongolian Groom and Draft Pick gave closest chase, but by the top of the stretch, it was all over.
Higher Power stormed home to a resounding 5 1/4-length win, completing the 1 1/4-mile fast main track event in 2:02.43.
“There were no special instructions, just make him comfortable,” Prat said after winning his first Pacific Classic. “We were in a good spot all the way around. When we entered the backside, he really grabbed the bit and I was travelling really well. Once the leader fell apart, he really jumped into the bridle and did everything on his own, so I thought that was the right move. I didn’t know if somebody would come from behind, but definitely I thought that was the right thing to do. It has been a great year so far and I’m really happy to win the Pacific Classic. It means a lot to me.”
Draft Pick outdueled Mongolian Groom in the stretch to take second by a neck. Some 4 lengths behind them came Tenfold in fourth. Higher Power’s stablemate Campaign closed from last to take fifth over War Story, who initially fought for the lead in the early stages before having to steady sharply and take back. The 2/1 favorite Seeking the Soul, already qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic thanks to his Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) win earlier this year, never seemed to find his best footing and finished seventh. Pavel, a spent Quip, and a non-threatening For the Top completed the order of finish.
Higher Power’s win was his third of the year following a pair of allowance scores earlier in the season at Santa Anita Park and Fair Grounds. The Fair Grounds win ended up being his last start for owner/breeder Pin Oak Stable and trainer Mike Stidham. After selling for $250,000 at the Keeneland April sale, he joined Sadler’s barn while sporting Hronis Racing’s green and white silks. The 4-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro improved his record to 13-5-1-4 with $800,648 earned.
“The second time is just as sweet,” said Sadler, whose former protege Accelerate dominated the 2018 running. “It developed pretty much the way we thought. We thought there would be some speed on the inside and the plan was to stalk. It came out the way we thought it would.”
Higher Power returned $21.20 to win, $9.40 to place, and $7.40 to show. Draft Pick brought back $17.40 to place and $10 to show, while Mongolian Groom paid $7.20 to show.