Pacific Classic – Grade I [BC]
DMR Race #8 1 1/4m Dirt Graded Stake
Purse $1,000.000 For Three Year Olds And Upward.
This is going to be a fascinating race, not only to see if the three year olds can continue their dominance but also to see if a filly can turn up and beat the boys. So with three groups of horses in the race we must think of it as being a race between the three year olds, the older horses and the filly….but which will come out on top and will HRP throw a spanner in the works with a track bias or a freak rain storm? Here’s a look at each of the runners.
1 El Gran Black, trained by Luz International
Representing the four year olds this one has been knocking on the door for a while and has shown some improved form since being switched to the dirt. He made all in the PRM Cornhusker Handicap last time for a gritty half length win but that was with a low weight and in a grade three and this is a big leap in competition. His mile work at LRL last month was very good and that along with the draw give him a sneaky chance but he would be a long shot unless he can get an early lead with some soft fractions.
2 Ginger Haggis, trained by The Sidley Stud
It is impossible to knock this brilliant three year olds form and he has a huge chance as long as the digital heavens dont open and turn the track into mud. Taking out his effort on an off track in the KYD he is one of the very few horses that took a BC Juvenile win and turned it into worthwhile TC form. He took a while after that BC victory running a couple of ordinary races until he bounced back in The Spiral and after the run in the KYD ran a super race in The Preakness to destroy the field and win by an easy two lengths. Out of the three TC races that was probably the most impressive but close behind was his excellent second in the BEL running from a horrible draw. His last race was another cracker when just getting beaten in a photo finish by his old rival Shootfromthehip in the Haskell over a trip that may have been a furlong too short for him. He will relish this trip and runs from a great draw so it is hard with the three year old weight allowance to not picture him at the sharp end of this race.
3 Skeleton Balle, trained by Oval Express Farms
A very good five year old who will need every yard of this trip. He showed his staying power when winning last years Marathon at the BC festival and is always the one putting in his best work at the end of his races. Looking at his work times he has a lot to find with most of these but he is an honest sort and will be trying all the way.
4 Black Mojo, trained by Mb Stables
A four year old he has run some great races that are good enough to see him in at the finish of this race. Second in last years BEL he went on to be third beaten less than a length in the BC Classic and then showed he had trained on with a super second in the Pegasus World Cup. He ran a couple of odd races after that but bounced back last time with a strong one length win in the Foster Handicap albeit under a pretty lenient weight. His works are very good but only as good as the three year olds so the weight allowance may be the difference today.
5 Cube Zero, trained by Yahudi Stables
Two lengths behind Ginger Haggis in the Spiral he missed out on the TC after failing in the AR Derby. He came back after a break to run third in the Iowa Derby and put up a decent mile work after that suggesting he is fitter and ready for a good run today. I am not sure he has improved enough to turn around the Ginger Haggis form but the weight allowance will put him right in it at the finish and if there are a few hard luck stories he could be an interesting outsider.
6 Danzig On The Rocks, trained by Mb Stables
Another who clearly turns into a donkey when it rains he has some impressive form if you take out his wet ground effort in the Queens Plate. His first win this year came in the Coolmore Lexington and then he stepped up on that to take a pretty competitive PIM Special. In his last start he thrashed a good field in the Prince Of wales winning by a very impressive three lengths but will need to improve again to beat this field. His works are just a touch off the best of them suggesting he may struggle a little but this is a fast improving three year old who didnt have the rigors of the TC to wear him down early in the season and certainly has the ability to get in the finish.
7 Devil Water, trained by Mm Racing
This three year old ran in some good races with its former owner but Mm Racing has been a little gentler with his preparation running mainly in overnights. He has performed well enough winning a couple of races and finishing second in the Mine That Bird Derby but his form doesnt really measure up to the best of these runners. A 1.36 and 1 work at the end of July suggest he is not without a chance but a win would be a fairly major surprise.
8 Conspiring, trained by Mb Stables
The question here is can a 1.36 and 4 work be good enough with the fillies weight allowance to see this lightly raced filly in at the finish. With three wins from just four races and one of those being the grade one Hirsch she certainly has shown enough ability against her own sex but a three year old against an older is one thing, a filly against a colt quite another. We know she has guts a plenty and if she is level with a furlong to run them none will fight better than her but it has to be said if she wins this then we must really question the weight allowance system at HRP. I am trying desperately to see how she can win this and on bare form and work times she definitely has a good chance but i have seen good fillies struggle against the boys enough to believe this may be a step too far. I must congratulate her trainer on having a go though because it certainly adds to the mystery of this race.
9 Gentile ll Buono, trained by Sc Lanciano
He hit a purple patch as a three year old taking advantage of the weight allowance to win the Durham Cup Stakes but has yet to win as a four year old and faces a very difficult task to change that now. He has run some very good races though, most notably in the CT Classic when third and in the Gold Cup when fourth but found it tough in The Suburban Handicap last time and could only manage tenth. His works are pretty good but a tough draw and no winning form in 2017 make him more of a chance for a place than a win.
10 Silver Dancer, trained by Night Rider Stables
Claimed for $32.000 last season he has improved in leaps and bounds this year. A close second in the Carter Handicap was the first pointer to his improvement and he went on for a big win in the Metropolitan Handicap after taking the Westchester before that. Beaten less than a length in the BEL Sprint Championship last time shows he has the tactical speed from this draw but you have to take his ability to stay this trip on trust. Another angle to consider he certainly has the ability if he can see out the mile and a quarter.
11 Steel Will, trained by Australia Wide
A very interesting entry from Australia Wide who has a pretty small stable these days. Last time out he was imperious in the grade one Vanderbilt Handicap coming home a length clear after some consistent efforts in smaller races. Like Silver Dancer the big question is the trip as that win was over six furlongs and with the outside speed push to fight with it may be too much to think he can make it two grade ones in a row. Having said that he has a 1.36 work to his name which is one of the best recent works in the field so if the old master can conjure up some of his old magic this could be a famous winner.
Everywhere you look in this field there is intrigue and interest. On the one hand we have the filly with only four races to her name racing off a low weight in a race she shouldnt win….but just might. On the other hand we have Ginger Haggis, one of the best three year olds in the game looking for yet more prize money to add to his impressive record so far. Then there’s the other three year olds, any of them could surprise as they are all working well enough and enjoy the weight advantage. Then we have the two sprinters drawn wide, both will face tactical questions from their draw but both trainers have the talent to overcome it. Finally we have the older generation of routers who will be grinding hard at the end. Tons of interest but add in the draw, a possible track bias and maybe even a downpour in our digital world and we have a race just waiting for a big story.