One of the biggest stakes races for three-year-old thoroughbreds and up leading to this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park in early November is another West Coast stakes race at Del Mar this Saturday with the running of the Pacific Classic. The best of the best will be vying for a piece of a $1 million purse.
Some of the biggest names in horse racing, from trainers to jockeys to champion thoroughbreds, are expected to be at Del Mar this Saturday to compete in the 2016 Pacific Classic. Along with the million up for grabs in prize money, this is another “Win and You're In” qualifier for the 2016 Breeders' Cup Classic. The following is my official trifecta betting pick for this race.
2016 Pacific Classic- Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
The Pacific Classic is a Grade 1 stakes race for three-year-old thoroughbreds and up with a total prize purse of $1 million. It will be contested on the dirt track at Del Mar over a distance of 1 ¼ miles.
Three of the top thoroughbreds in the world right now are expected to compete in this year's Pacific Classic setting this race up as one of the best in recent major stakes racing history. At the top of almost everyone's list including mine is 2014 Kentucky Derby Champion California Chrome, who is expected to open as solid morning line favorite. This five-year-old California-bred horse has done nothing but win this season starting with a victory in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita as a prep for his win in this year's Grade 1 Dubai World Cup over Mubtaahij and Hoppertunity.
Trainer Art Sherman decided to use the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar in late July as a prep for this race and California Chrome did not disappoint with a win over Dortmund and Win the Space at a distance of 1 1/16 miles.
My second choice to beat the betting odds this Saturday would be last year's Pacific Classic winner Beholder. Trained by Richard Mandella, this six-year-old Kentucky-bred mare is back to try and show up the boys once again after beating Catch A Flight and Red Vine in last year's event. Since that win, she has gone on to place first in three of her last four races. The only slip came last month in the Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar. She finished second behind Stellar Wind over a distance of 1 1/16 miles.
You would have to go all the way back to June of 2014 to find the last time she finished out of the money. This was the only time that happened in her storied racing career that includes 16 victories in 19 events. Beholder is currently ranked third by Horse Racing Nation with a lofty rating of 8.73.
The battle for third in this race should be a good one, but I am leaning towards trainer Bob Baffert's Dortmund to round out my top three. The second-place finish to California Chrome in last month's San Diego Handicap was the only race that this four-year-old Kentucky-bred colt has run this season, but even rusty that did not keep him from challenging one of the greatest racing thoroughbreds of all time. Going back to last season as a three-year-old, he ran seven events and claimed the top prize five times with his last victory coming in the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap at Del Mar in late November over a distance of 1 1/8 miles.
His current HRN rank stands at No. 6 on the list and the pedigree of 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown has the third-best rating in the projected field for Saturday's race at 8.66.