Pacific Classic (Grade 1) (BC)- $1,000.000 Purse
DMR- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Quarter on the Dirt
September 3, 2022
This weekend will continue to have excellent racing, and out on the West Coast, a spot in the BC Classic will be there for the taking, as well as a $1,000.000 purse in the 19th running of the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at DMR. This is a race that has been won by the likes of Icicle, Barbarino and Madhouse in the past and Ginger Haggis, Combat Wombat, and Crack Dab more recently. Combat Wombat, though, is going to take a stab at winning it again and should be one of the ones to beat. In 2021, Mb Stables took home his fourth Pacific Classic trophy by winning the race with Graveyard, but for the horse, that would be his final moment of glory. This year’s version will be fourteen horses strong, so we should expect a great one. Here are those that will be taking part!
#1- Hard Discretion (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by M J Sanchez)- The Hardline gelding comes out of the SD Handicap right here about five weeks ago, which he won and the trainer is counting on the form shown since the spring will continue. He’s had his hot streak in the past where it looked like he was going to do some great things, but then went into a dry spell late last year and into this one. This is the first time that he runs in a Grade 1, and while he could be a contender if he’s at his absolute best, anything less than that will see a midpack, at best, finish.
#2- Funny Cide (Iolaus, ridden by A Bocachica)- Ran against Hard Discretion in the SD Handicap at the end of July, and beat everyone else in the field other than the one starting to his inside. It would be his third straight second place finish, with the prior two coming in allowance with a triple digit purse. He’s been first or second in five of his last six races, but he has not been facing Pacific Classic caliber fields. I feel the same about him, therefore, that at his best, he can be a threat, but it can be nothing less.
#3- Up In Smoke (Fractious, ridden by R M Hernandez)- There are three different three year olds in this field, and Up In Smoke is one of them. This will give him a four pound weight allowance which he absolutely must take advantage of. The Pacific Classic is the fifth race for him since the sale to Fractious, and saying he has been hot and cold in them definitely fits. In the BEL, he ran second, and that is plenty to be excited about, but the consistency just is not there for him. The Haskell was quite a disappointment but if he’s on again and off again, then he is due to be on here. Personally, I’d rather have seen him in the Travers.
#4- Quality Art (Mb Stables, ridden by D Moran)- Last month, Quality Art ran in the Whitney and turned out a decent performance, running in fifth but never posed a threat to the winner. He had to start from an outside post that day, so already things are looking a little better for him here. Prior to the Whitney, he was third in the PRM Cornhusker Handicap. But, if we are going to criticize Up In Smoke for being a hot and cold, then you have to say it about Quality Art as well. He also doesn’t really have that win that you look at and get impressed by. Probably due for a good one here, but I like others more.
#5- Spankersville (The Sidley Stud, ridden by V Espinoza)- This Ginger Haggis colt has run most of his career on the turf, and ran in several graded stakes, but his only win was in an ungraded one. In May, he went back to the dirt and won the $100.000 Flat Out at BEL, and has continued to look good while running long. The trainer feels he’s looked more than just good at these distances, and is confident that he can run big against elite company. His SRF’s have been good, but so too, are everyone else’s.
#6- Crimson Rioja (Mo Mentum Farm, ridden by J Stein)- The last time we saw Crimson Rioja in the winner’s circle, it was in January in a starter allowance at SA. Prior to his last race, there was not much to suggest that he was about to run in the Pacific Classic, but there was some deceivingly good company in the Grade 3 Seagram Cup Stakes he comes out of, where he was second, narrowly missing the win. That effort earned him a 100 SRF, so more of the same, and he could be a threat. But like I’ve said about some others, nothing less than his best can happen.
#7- Splash Mountain (John Henry, ridden by Ru Fuentes)- When it comes to Splash Mountain, all that you really need to say is that Splash Mountain is in the field. In 2022, the seven year old gelding has not been as strong. It started well by running third in the Pegasus World Cup, but otherwise, he has failed to hit the board. Over his career, Splash Mountain has never been out of the top three in four consecutive races, and only on one occasion did he do so in more than three straight. Last ran against Hard Discretion and Funny Cide in the SD Handicap and was a non factor there. While you always have to feel a horse like this is due to bust out in a big way, it’s hard to look past him in a field. But, I have to, and I’d love to be wrong in doing so.
#8- Combat Wombat (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by Ru Gonzalez)- Over the years, there have likely been many occasions where he has run up against fellow seven year old gelding, Splash Mountain, but his season is going a lot better this year. He’s won three of six, and his last three races have all seen triple digit SRF’s. In May, he was especially impressive in his Grade 3 PIM Special win, with a 104 SRF there, and followed that up nicely by winning the Grade 2 Suburban prior to running fourth in the Whitney. Maybe, he could have shown a little more there but that is not something I am concerned with in the slightest. Combat Wombat is no stranger to the Pacific Classic, running in it for the third time. Putting his age in perspective, he won it in 2018. More recent winners have long since been retired. Four years later, he may do it again, and I think he will.
#9- Mintmach (Nakamura Stables, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- We also saw this one in the Whitney, but for Mintmach, it nearly came with a win. He would have to settle for second that day, but the trainer hopes that it represents a return to good form because his prior two races were not much to be excited about. Mintmach was sluggish in the Grade 1 Gold Cup, and simply bad in the Grade 2 Foster Handicap. He’s had stretches like that in his past, and it is starting to seem as though that is a theme of this race.
#10- On Schedule (Mb Stables, ridden by E Jaramillo)- As this one moves up in class, he is surrounded in gate by some great ones, so it is a good thing that he does not know any better. The lightly raced four year old makes just the ninth start of his career, and has won three times. Comes out of an optional claimer here three weeks ago that he won, and will run in a stake for the first time. This is a tough way to do it. It’s also only the second time that he will run over a mile. On Schedule might be a little late to arrive on this scene, but if he gets to the BC Classic, better late than never.
#11- Contradiction (Aer Stables, ridden by E Maldonado)- After running fourth in the BC Classic last year, Contradiction is hoping to get back but in the short term, Aer Stables is hoping the horse can simply get back to form. In 2022, last year’s PRK runner up has failed to do any better than fifth over his five starts. His performance in the Grade 2 Foster wasn’t necessarily awful two back, but if that’s the best race of the year, then it is hard to get excited. Though, we are saying this a lot about horses in this field and I can see any of them, including Contradiction, stepping up.
#12- Sexy Back (Night Rider Stables, ridden by K Carmouche)- Here’s another that ran at the Whitney, but you have may have a hard time remembering that he was there since he ran an awful race. He scored a win early in the year at the GP Mile, but lately (and I am feeling like a broken record now), his form has not been much to be excited about. Ran a dud in the OP Handicap much like we saw at SAR in his last start. Will he be the one the finally break out of a dry spell?
#13- Pluckzy (Gdp Inc, ridden by C J Hernandez)- Two of the three year olds in this field will be starting in the outside two spots, so the post draw says, “take that” for your weight allowance. Pluckzy has run well this year, with the only disappointing line being the KYD, and that is always forgiven. That said, he recovered very well after that to run third in the BEL, and it was done wearing the same number on the saddlecloth as he will here, so he can get it done from the outside. His speed figures seem lower than others here, and that grabs my attention a bit but I like that he’s on good form, which more than half of the field here can’t say.
#14- White Sunshine (Smokey Stover, ridden by E T Baird)- This three year old does not have a lot of experience running in races like this, but he did run fourth in the SA Derby, which by the way, was won by Pluckzy. That wouldn’t be enough points for the KYD, and Smokey Stover has run him in competitive races, but away from the best three year olds since then. A drop into a CA-bred optional claimer in late July grabs your attention as far as why it was necessary.