Del Mar, CA -- The biggest race of the year at Del Mar Race Track is Sunday with the Grade 1, $1,000,000 Pacific Classic Stakes. Post positions were drawn for the Pacific Classic on Wednesday evening and a pair of leading contenders -- Grade 1 winners Twirling Candy and Game on Dude -- each received a less-than-favorable outside draw in the 11-horse field.
Twirling Candy drew post 10 and is the mornling line favorite at 5-2. The versatile four-year-old colt has excelled on dirt, turf and synthetics during his career, winning both the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby and Oceanside Stakes on the lawn at Del Mar last season, and Twirling Candy will make his first attempt on the Polytrack in the Pacific Classic.
Game on Dude drew post 9, and looks to use his speed in attempt to establish decent positioning into the first turn. He's listed at 3-1 on the morning line with regular rider Chantal Sutherland.
Camp of 'Candy is Dandy with Outside Post
Post position is neither irrelevant nor crucial in a 1 1/4-mile race with more than a quarter-mile run to the first turn like Sunday's Grade I, $1 million TVG Pacific Classic.
But the smiles and gestures from the table occupied by the connections of Twirling Candy were a tipoff to their pleasure and relief when the 5-2 morning line favorite drew No. 10 at Wednesday evening's post position draw at the Rancho Valencia Resort.
Pacific Classic betting at Del Mar Race Track at Off Track Betting .
"We were very happy," trainer John Sadler said Thursday morning. "If you go back and look he was No. 1 in The Californian and the Hollywood Gold Cup and toward the inside (No. 5) in the Big Cap. So he hasn't had a good draw in quite awhile.
"We wanted to get an outside post so he can pick wherever he wants to be and not get in trouble. You have a long run to the first turn and you can get a good position from the outside post."
Bracketing Twirling Candy and jockey Joel Rosario are Game On Dude and Chantal Sutherland, second choice in the morning line at 3-1 in post position No. 9, and 20-1 Quindici Man with Martin Garcia, a come-from-behind type, at No. 11. The scratch from the Classic on Thursday morning of Bourbon Bay, who drew the No. 8 post, will mean the outside three will each move one space inside from their draw number. Bourbon Bay was automatically scratched when he was entered in Sunday's $200,000 Del Mar Handicap.
Game On Dude has outfinished Twirling Candy when the two raced in relatively close proximity through the early stages of both the Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup.
Game On Dude rallied from third at the half-mile mark for a nose victory in the Big 'Cap, while Twirling Candy faded to fifth after being bumped in midstretch. Game On Dude came back after being headed in the stretch by Twirling Candy and missed by a nose to stablemate First Dude in the Gold Cup . Twirling Candy was third, beaten only a neck.
"It's a good draw for us because Game On Dude will go on, Quindici Man will drop back and we should be able to move (in) and get a trip," Sadler said.
Bourbon Bay Enters DM 'Cap -- Exits 'Classic
Trainer Neil Drysdale kept his options open by entering Bourbon Bay in the TVG Pacific Classic on Wednesday then closed them Thursday morning by entering the Sligo Bay gelding in Sunday's Grade II, $200,000 Del Mar Handicap.
Rules prohibit entry in both races, since they are scheduled on the same day, and delayed decision-making. So the choice of the Del Mar Handicap, contested at 1 3/8 miles on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course, constituted an automatic scratch of Bourbon Bay from the Classic.
Bourbon Bay has been primarily a turf horse through his career. Bourbon Bay has made 18 of 20 lifetime starts on the grass, compiled six of seven wins on the surface, and generated $598,086 of his $684,424 earnings. A victory in the Grade III Cougar II Handicap, at 1 1/2 miles on Del Mar's Polytrack, prompted consideration for the Classic.
The Handicap, which will be run as the third race on an 11-race card, drew a field of six. From the rail out the lineup is: Make Music For Me (Rafael Bejarano), Medici Code (Martin Pedroza), Bourbon Bay (Joe Talamo), Celtic New Year (Victor Espinoza), Soul Candy (Joel Rosario) and Imponente Purse (Chantal Sutherland).
Blind Luck to Wait for Lady's Secret Eclipse Award-winning filly Blind Luck was not entered Wednesday morning in Sunday's $1 million Pacific Classic as had been eagerly anticipated. The 4-year-old daughter of Pollard's Vision will train up to the Lady's Secret on October 1 at Santa Anita as the final start before the $2 million Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic on Friday, November 4 at Churchill Downs.
"I just didn't want to run her against the colts," Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said by telephone from Northern California of a first test against males in the Pacific Classic. "I didn't want to ship her across the country either.
"Sometimes patience is the best virtue."
Blind Luck had been nominated for the Pacific Classic, the Personal Ensign at Saratoga in New York and the Molly Pitcher at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, races that are all scheduled for Sunday. Last Saturday, Hollendorfer ruled out the Saratoga and Monmouth races and said that if Blind Luck would run anywhere it would be in the Pacific Classic.