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The stars were certainly out at Del Mar last Saturday, with the seaside southern California track playing host to its biggest card of the year, Pacific Classic Day. Not only did we get an exciting finish at a price to the big headlining day, but we also saw a horse return to his stellar 2020 form off a significant layoff and an emerging local sophomore strut her stuff against a tough out-of-towner.
Nearly every race seemed to have some sort of implications for the Breeders’ Cup, which will be held hear in early November. Without any further adieu, here’s our latest Three Stars of the Week:
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Layoff? What layoff? Trainer Peter Miller said post-race that he was worried whether or not Mo Forza was fit enough, but the 5-year-old turf miler returned with a bang to defend his title in Saturday’s Del Mar Mile Stakes (G2). While it was the shortest field of the day’s 5 graded stakes, all five runners who competed are multiple graded stakes winners, three of them succeeding at the Grade 1 level. Mo Forza at times looked unsure of what to do, but jockey Flavien Prat kept him straight enough off the turn and in the stretch that once he hit the 1/8 pole and was within range of Smooth Like Strait, the light turned on and he launched himself powerfully to win on the wire by a head. Fingers crossed he stays healthy and can defend his City of Hope Mile Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park a month before the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).
What looked like a wide-open field on paper turned into a stretch battle between a pair of 6/1 runners who gave their all in Saturday’s TVG Pacific Classic (G1), and in the end it was Tripoli besting Tizamagician in the 1 1/4-mile dirt route that went to trainer John Sadler and owner Hronis Racing for the third time in the past 4 years. Sadler and Hronis Racing campaigned Accelerate to an undefeated 2018 campaign that ended with winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs, then pulled a 9/1 upset the following year with Higher Power, who later finished third in the Classic at Santa Anita Park. What Tripoli does next remains to be seen, but he punched his ticket to the biggest event at the World Championships with his third straight triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure performance.
After dominating California-based turf runners her own age for much of the season, Going Global met a few new faces in Saturday’s Del Mar Oaks (G1) but kept the same result – a dominating victory under the circuit’s undisputed best rider Flavien Prat. After suffering her first American defeat last time out in the San Clemente Stakes (G2) (the local prep for this held at 1 mile), Going Global clearly relished stretching back out to 9 furlongs, running away late while defeating the well-regarded Chad Brown trainee Fluffy Socks, who flew in from New York after finishing second last time out to Saturday’s Lake Placid Stakes (G2) winner. While the European invaders have dominated the east coast turf scene and will likely head to the Breeders’ Cup heavily favored to continue succeeding, this filly is quietly improving with every start and as the distances go longer. She’d be a longshot, but why not try her in the Filly & Mare Turf at the end of the year?
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