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DEL MAR, CA – Tizamagician aims for glory as part of an evenly-matched field of nine horses who will battle in Saturday’s wide-open version of the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar. The race is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” for the Classic, held over the same course and distance in November.
There is no question this field lacks a star horse, but that just means the field will give bettors plenty of options. As weak as it looks on paper, this race still headlines the seaside track’s biggest day of racing.
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The extremely popular Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella seems to have the strongest hand this season, starting two horses with a big chance in Tizamagician and Royal Ship. Tizamagician comes into this race off of a solid victory in the Cougar II Stakes (G3) over this track last time out, while Royal Ship was third in the San Diego Handicap (G2). Flavien Prat will be aboard Tizamagician, breaking from post 2, and Royal Ship will break from post 4 under Mike Smith.
The only horse to ship in for the race is the Todd Pletcher trainee Dr Post, who drew post 3 for this race and will have Joel Rosario aboard. He has been up and down this season but comes into this race off an impressive win at Monmouth Park in the Monmouth Cup Stakes (G3). He also won the Winchester Stakes (G3) earlier in the year at Belmont Park.
Express Train seems like a logical contender in this spot and has been made the 3/1 morning line favorite by Jon White. The locally-based horse has been consistent all year long in California’s older male division and came home victorious last time out in the San Diego Handicap (G2) over this track. He’ll break from post 5 with Juan Hernandez up for the ride.
The full field from the rail out: Tripoli, Tizamagician, Dr Post, Royal Ship, Express Train, Magic On Tap, Independence Hall, Sheriff Brown, and Cupid’s Claws.
Express Train Holds On Late To Win San Diego
#4 Royal Ship – If he can get back to his 2 efforts at Santa Anita earlier in the year, then he should win this race, as those were better than anything we’ve seen from anyone in this field. The problem is, he was not good in the local prep for this race; he was a lackluster third in the San Diego Handicap (G2). He was stuck on the inside for a lot of that race, though, which seemed to be the worst part of the track that day. Hopefully he can bounce back and run his best race in this spot.
#2 Tizamagician – The big boy comes into this race in great form, winning 2 of 3 races including the Cougar II Stakes (G3) over this track last time out. Flavien Prat stays aboard, which is another good sign, and the horse seems to do his best running over this track. He does his best running in longer races, though, and I think his stablemate is just a bit more talented. We’ll all be rooting for him here at the Racing Dudes headquarters. It’s fun to think he has a shot to actually win this big-time race.
#3 Dr Post – There are plenty of positives with this horse, especially since Pletcher is shipping him across the country to run in this spot. Joel Rosario climbs aboard as well, which just adds to the intrigue, especially with his riding record at Del Mar. The horse has been disappointing at times, but his win last time out at Monmouth Park was pretty solid. If he brings that type of effort with him in this spot, then he’ll have a big chance.
#5 Express Train – I understand that he won the local prep race for this, but he’s a play against for me as far as a win is concerned. He’s disappointed several times at short prices and his talent level doesn’t seem to be elite. He’s likely to be around at the end, but I’m banking on a couple of other horses out-finishing him late.
“The post is great, we’re happy to be right in the middle,” trainer John Shirreffs said. “He’s got tactical speed, and once he gets to the backside, he relaxes and gets into a good, long stride.”
#7 Independence Hall – Who knows what the hell to do with this horse. It feels like he should be running in shorter races; however, he’s had some decent performances around two turns this year. I’m still very skeptical in him effectively getting this distance, but there is no doubt he can hit the board against this suspect group.
#1 Tripoli – His first attempt against stakes company went well last time out, finishing a solid second in the San Diego Handicap (G2). This race is pretty similar to that one; however, can he repeat that type of effort again? His resume was not overly impressive coming into that race, where a couple of the main contenders got poor trips. We need a price bigger than his morning line of 5/1 to play him, but I think he might float up in odds, which would make him playable.
“The post is OK, he’s got a mile and 1/4 to run and a long way to the first turn,” trainer John Sadler said. “He’s doing great, ready to go, and we’re happy to be in there.”
Magic On Tap Takes Triple Bend
#6 Magic On Tap – Two starts back, he had success sprinting, when he won the Triple Bend Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita. However, he struggled stretching out in the San Diego Handicap (G2), finishing fifth. I’m not sure more distance will suit him well in this spot.
#8 Sheriff Brown – I’ve also liked this horse in smaller races, but in this kind of spot, he’ll be hard pressed to make an impact. His last 2 starts in graded stakes races did not go well.
#9 Cupid’s Claws – He was beaten by Tizamagician pretty easily last time out, so it’s hard to see him turning it around in this tougher spot. His record at Del Mar is not great either, as he has just 1 win in 8 starts over this track.
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