A Look at the Pacific Classic

Pacific Classic (Grade 1) (BC)- $1,000.000 Purse
DMR- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Quarter on the Dirt
August 18, 2018

The highlight of the DMR meet is upon us this weekend as a field of thirteen gets set to battle in the 15th running of the Grade 1 Pacific Classic. It will send its winner to the BC Classic, assuming the trainer enters them, but it also provides a great purse to be won right now. It is a race that has seen the likes of Icicle, Barbarino, and Madhouse once go to the winners circle, and last year The Sidley Stud got a taste of victory with Ginger Haggis. In 2011, the race was won by a filly, as Poolside Ec picked up the win for Yahudi Stables. Historically, though maybe not as much recently, this race has seen its winner also have great success in the BC Classic, with four horses winning both races in the same year. Little Slick, the first ever winner of this race, pulled off the double in 2004, Barbarino did so in 2007, Obvious Intention followed it up the next year in 2008, and Madhouse would also do so in 2010. There have been a few second place finishes in the BC Classic by Pacific Classic winners as well, though recently we have not seen a horse pull off winning both races. Perhaps this will be the year. Judging by the field, there is plenty of talent in here that would be capable of doing so. On the trainer side of things, you will see most of the big names of our virtual world on the past winners list. Only one trainer has won this race more then once. I’ll give you one guess! Correct, Mb Stables won the race in 2012 (The Windy City), and in 2016 with a co-winner in a dead heat, High Pride. Let’s take a look at our participants for this race. Enjoy!

#1- Benzar (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by J J Hernandez)- A while ago, Benzar really made an impression on me in a race that he did not win. Forgive me, for I can’t remember which that race was now, as he had a brutal trip throughout the race but showed plenty of heart and ability in closing hard. In his last race, the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap right here at DMR, he would pick up the first graded win of his career. Things will be similar for him here, as he started on the rail in that race, and will again. He will just have to go a little longer. This distance is going to be fine for him. As much as I want to make him one of my picks, it is a little tough to put my money on a horse that’s for 3-for-17 to go back-to-back when going against this type of field, but he still may very well win this race.

#2- Conan The Barbarian (Night Rider Stables, ridden by Ro Maragh)- As early picks get made in Smokey Stover’s survivor competition, it is pretty clear that most people do not feel that Conan The Barbarian is a threat here. I may end up following suit there, but that could be a good omen, because those being picked as the survivor more then anyone else have run second in two of the three weeks. He’s stepping up, let’s face it. From claimers, to lower starter allowances. He won a four horse PA-bred stake in his last start, but this isn’t the Leematt. To his credit, he did work well at SAR on a rare day when the track was not wet, but still this is a tough assignment.

#3- Jason Bourne (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by R Bejarano)- As his four year old season began, he seemed to fulfill the potential that the trainer had always felt that he had when you consider some his early career placement. He’s still a bit raw though in terms of career success in comparison to those he is seeing here. He has not won a graded stake yet, but a second place showing in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap in March is his career highlight right now. So far, he has liked going long, and I believe that he will like the ten furlongs he attempts for the first time. I would anticipate seeing a tactical race similar to the New Orleans, then some of his more recent races.

#4- Air Show (Mb Stables, ridden by D E Centeno)- The five year old gelding has spent the majority of his 30-race career sprinting. He has been successful in that, winning a graded stake, and qualifying for the BC Sprint last year. He’s gone long four times in his career so far, three of them are too long ago to bother mentioning. The other came in his last race, which was his first race for Mb Stables after a $75.000 claim from Our Athletes. That race was the Grade 1 Foster Handicap, and Air Show would be victorious as a 62/1 longshot. The Pacific Classic will be his first race off of that, and it will be very interesting to see how he follows it up.

#5- Range Of The Sun (Team 7 Illusions, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- The jockey was in the saddle for his last race as well, the Grade 1 Gold Cup at SA where he scored a thrilling victory over Black Mojo and others he sees here again today. Gutierrez is 2-for-2 with Range Of The Sun, and I am kind of surprised to see him not being picked more in the survivor competition (as of press time). He loves going long, and even won the Grade 2 Marathon, the unofficial BC Race, right here nine months ago. Occasionally, he will disappoint on race day, and perhaps that is scaring some off, but Range Of The Sun will be one of the main ones to beat in this race.

#6- Con Artist (Mb Stables, ridden by C J Lanerie)- It seems like whenever Mb puts three in one race, there is an up and comer like Con Artist as one of them. While Black Mojo will be seen as being the trainer’s top threat, it may just be Con Artist that gets it done for the trainer. He’s hot, having won three in a row, including the $400.000 Prince of Wales in late July. Sure, people can look at the field there and not be impressed but there’s no doubt about it that Con Artist is on the upswing. He can prove doubters wrong with a big win here.

#7- Call Your Doctor (Crocker Ggs, ridden by J Talamo)- This Snakie colt has been lightly raced thus far, and would only break his maiden in late November last season, coming at GG. In seven races, he has never had a bad effort, finishing in the top four in all of them, and has won three. He would run second in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup, a twelve furlong event that saw only Turn Ninnie be a little better, and there is never any shame in losing to him. Call Your Doctor followed that up perfectly in the Grade 2 Eclipse, winning the late May race. That’s his last start, and I am little surprised it has been that long when the form seemed to be at highest point.

#8- Made To Sin (John Henry, ridden by J Lezcano)- At one time considered a top KYD threat when he was three, Made To Sin is still looking to find a level of consistency in his career. He’ll have his moments, and his last race, running second in the Grade 2 PRM Cornhusker Handicap last month was one of them. However, ever since John Henry purchased him from Downwind Stables in early 2017, he has never really put together two strong efforts in a row. If the good Made To Sin shows up, he can win the race. There is just no certainty with him that will actually be the case. Tough horse to throw support behind but too risky, perhaps, to consider making a survivor pick.

#9- Bayou Quartier (Invicta Group Llc, ridden by G Franco)- Not a horse that we would have anticipated being part of the Pacific Classic, considering that all 22 races of his career have been on the grass. Running on the turf, he has been successful, and actually rides a three race winning streak, all of which are Grade 2 events. The San Luis Rey at SA, the Elkhorn at KEE, and BEL Gold Cup at BEL are those big wins, and are all twelve furlong races, so distance is not an issue. He’s been prepped for this, and a recent dirt work right here at DMR is as good as any that you will see in the field. If he wins, he might not see the grass again!

#10- Black Mojo (Mb Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- This will the first time that Black Mojo races here at DMR since he won the BC Classic back in November. The gelding has accumulated over $6,000.000 in career earnings, and may be one of the least talked about superstars in the game today. Sure, we’ll talk about him when its race day, but other then that he gets lost in the shuffle a little. Since the BC win, he has continued to excel, with victories in three of five races. Two of those wins were in open allowances, but he did also win the Grade 2 CT Classic. I like that he shows up and runs his best when the stakes seem to be the highest. He has not often had to come from a double digit post, so if you are looking for a reason to bet against him, that’s probably it. He’s the favorite here, and while he’s certainly not a given, there’s a reason most people are picking him, and I will be no different.

#11- State Police (Smokey Stover, ridden by A A Gallardo)- The trainer has not been selling everything, and picked this one up at the end of May for $1,000.770. Quite a price tag, and we are sure that prior trainer Team 7 Illusions is happy with that. He would make his Smokey Stover debut nine days after the sale, and came from off the pace to be third in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap. It only makes sense that State Police would do his best work while chasing, and if he just needed more race track, he’ll have no excuses here. The post isn’t ideal, but it’s not the worst, either.

#12- Laffin Parrot (Mo Mentum Farm, ridden by A A Gallardo)- Last month, Laffin Parrot picked up a win in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap, which is also run at ten furlongs. He has shown the ability to step it up in big races in the past, having also won the Queens Plate last year. Perhaps, he just likes racing in early July, but he ran very well throughout the summer. That’s also run at a mile and a quarter, and it really appears as though this is his favorite distance. He’s consistent, with eleven finishes in the money out of sixteen starts, though he likes to throw in sixth place finishes from time to time. Hopefully the post is not a deterrent.

#13- Combat Wombat (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by R M Hernandez)- This is the only three year old in the field, somewhat surprisingly. This will allow him to carry four fewer pounds then the rest of the field, which should just about allow him to break even with the negative factor of having to start from this post. Combat Wombat has only made three starts in his career, but he is looking like one to watch. Spent a lot of time in the auction rings, and that postponed the start of his career. After breaking his maiden at WO in his second start, Combat Wombat was impressive in jumping up and winning the Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes at WO in early July, topping Techfluence in the process. That is also a ten furlong race. He could be pesky in here, and even if he does not win, we’ll be seeing a lot more of him.

#14- Handsome- Scratched

Prediction: 10-5-11-1

— NS

Categories: Grade I, STAKES ARTICLES

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