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A wide-open field of 10 older horses will contest this Saturday’s running of the $1,000,000 TVG Pacific Classic (G1) on Del Mar’s biggest day of the entire meet. This year’s edition is about as evenly-matched as you can get and should provide one of the best betting opportunities of the season.
One of these lucky horses will pick up a prestigious Grade 1 victory. The Doug O’Neill-trained Pavel is the most established entry, having won the Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) last season at Churchill Downs to earn an automatic into the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Also appearing is this year’s winner of the Stephen Foster, as Seeking the Soul ships from his home base in Kentucky. He could end up being the post-time favorite because of his recent victory at Churchill Downs.
The winner of the Pacific Classic will receive an automatic position in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) this fall at Santa Anita Park. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of California will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.
The Pacific Classic serves as one of two Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events this Saturday at Del Mar. The other race is the Del Mar Handicap (G1), which will be contested earlier on the card. That race will be a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Longines Turf (G1). The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue on August 24 with three races at Saratoga Race Course: the Ketel One Ballerina (Filly and Mare Sprint), the Sword Dancer (Longines Turf), and the Personal Ensign (Longines Distaff). Del Mar will also host one challenge race next Saturday, the Pat O’Brien Stakes, a “Win and You’re In” for the Big Ass Fans Dirt Mile.
The full field from the rail out includes: War Story, Quip, Pavel, For The Top, Seeking the Soul, Higher Power, Tenfold, Campaign, Mongolian Groom, and Draft Pick.
#2 Quip – He made a name for himself last year along the Kentucky Derby trail, but an injury cut his 2018 campaign short. This year, he has hit the board in all three starts, including a win in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) two starts back. Last time out, he ran a solid second in the Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs. This will be his first start in a Grade 1 race since finishing off the board in last year’s Preakness Stakes.
#5 Seeking the Soul –He comes into the race off of the biggest win after taking the Stephen Foster last time out. That victory earned him a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which means that he’s playing with house money here. A win over this field would make him one of the top older horses in the country, so there is still much to gain with a victory. He’s been made the morning line favorite, and he will likely remain that way by post time.
#8 Campaign – The lightly-raced son of Curlin comes into this race hot after winning the Cougar II last time out over this track. He’ll actually cut back in distance after running longer in his last three starts. His last at this distance came four races back in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1), where he finished fourth. His win over this track seems like a very positive sign, and he has won three of five starts this season.
#3 Pavel – It seems like anytime there is a big divisional race, this horse shows up. He has literally traveled all over the world running in big-time races, which means that he will not be intimidated by anyone in this race. He hasn’t won since last year’s Stephen Foster, but he was second in the Pacific Classic last year. Among his seasonal highlights, he finished fourth in this year’s Dubai World Cup (G1) and ran third last time out in the Suburban Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park.
#1 War Story – This warrior has been competitive for several years now. He comes into this start off of a victory in the Monmouth Cup (G3) on Haskell Stakes Day. That was his first win in over a year, though, so he needed the boost in confidence. His last start at Del Mar was a solid fourth in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). If he runs that well again here, then he’ll have a big chance to win.
#9 Mongolian Groom – Don’t let the long morning line fool you: this horse has a legitimate shot to make some noise in this spot, especially after a solid second last time out in the San Diego Handicap (G2). He also gave good showings in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita and the Santa Anita Handicap this season, and this field looks a bit easier than those two.
#7 Tenfold – Steve Asmussen ships this horse over from the east after a recent set of solid workouts at Saratoga. He opted to skip the Whitney Stakes (G1) to run here, believing that the classic 1 1/4-mile distance suits him better. Two races back, he won the Pimlico Special Stakes (G3), but he was a disappointing ninth last time out in the Stephen Foster. That non-effort will require a lot of improvement if he wants to win this race.
#10 Draft Pick – At times last year, this horse showed off his talent, winning the Affirmed Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita and finishing second in both the Los Alamitos Derby (G3) and the West Virginia Derby (G3). He kicked off his 2019 with a win in an allowance/optional claiming race at Santa Anita before finishing third last time out in the San Diego Handicap. This will be his third race off of the layoff.
#6 Higher Power – We’ll see if he can take another step forward after running his best races lately. He was second last time out in the Wickerr Stakes at Del Mar after winning an allowance/optional claiming event two starts back at Santa Anita. It is time for him to prove that he belongs with this sort of competition, which is something that he was unable to do three starts back in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes (G1).
#4 For The Top – The Argentinan-bred will make his third appearance in the United States, and while his previous starts were average, he did seem to improve last time out when running third in the Cougar II Handicap (G3) over this track. His third start in this country could be his best yet.
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