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Las Vegas, NV - The Grade 1 Pacific Classic is on tap for Del Mar in Southern California this Saturday, August 22. A nice purse of $1 million will be on the line for horses three years and older willing to go 1 1/4 miles on Del Mar's dirt track.
A field of 10 will contest the Pacific Classic - race 9 on Del Mar's packed Saturday card. Post time is 6:10 PM. Here is a glance into the past performances f all 10 combatants for this lucrative Grade 1 stakes - the signature event of the Del Mar summer meet and a "Win and You're In" entry in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Beholder 5-2 - 2012 Eclipse Award winner as 2-year-old filly, 2013 Champion 3 Year Old Filly and seven time Grade 1 victor has 18 career starts with 13 wins and three second place finishes - the only times she hasn't finished first or second came in her debut and a fourth place finish in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Stakes just over a year ago. She enters on a nice four race win streak - the Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes by an incredible seven lengths here August 1, the Grade 1 Adoration Stakes at Santa Anita June 13, the minor Santa Lucia Stakes in April and the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes in September (which she won two straight years). She won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in 2012 and the Breeders' Cup Distaff in 2013 but has just six starts since - five wins. She is a two-time Eclipse Award winner for a reason - she is mighty impressive and despite being lightly raced the last 18 months is the one to catch Saturday against the boys - for the first time. Gary Stevens will be in the saddle of the morning line favorite from post 9.
Catch a Flight 9-2 - Argentinean bred Gary Mandella trainee had six wins and a third place finish at home before debuting in North America with a third in an Allowance Optional Claiming January 19. He has six starts since that race - four wins and two third place finishes. Last time out was one of those wins - the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap here July 25. He also had wins in the Grade 2 Californian and Grade 3 Precisionist stakes this year. He was an OK third as favorite behind Hoppertunity in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita June 27 but obviously rebounded nicely last time out. Catch a Flight has won three of his last four starts and is one to keep an eye of as the morning line second choice from post 7 with Flavien Prat aboard.
Hoppertunity 5-1 - Bob Baffert trained colt was one of the favorites for last year's Kentucky Derby but missed that race. He had a decent second to Hard Aces in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita June 27 but stumbled a bit last time out - a fourth in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap here July 25. He's also had consecutive OK third place finishes - in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap June 13 and the Grade 2 San Antonio Invitational in February and two good wins - in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes January 10 and in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs November 28 with an impressive 104 Beyer Speed Figure. Last year Hoppertunity had a good second behind California Chrome in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in April, to go along with a great win over Tapiture in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park last March 15. Hoppertunity has four wins, three seconds and two third place finishes in his last nine starts overall - pretty competitive. Martin Garcia has the mount from gate 8.
Hard Aces 5-1 - John Sadler trainee looked awfully impressive last time out - winning the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita over Catch a Flight and Hoppertunity June 27. That result followed a third in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes May 30 and having failed to place in his previous two starts - both graded stakes - a sixth in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap April 11 and a fourth in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap March 7. Before that was a nice four length win in the minor Louisiana Handicap January 17 with a 104 Beyer Speed Figure. Hard Aces has won twice this year but isn't afraid to throw in a dud. Still, with the impressive win last time out Hard Aces is definitely on the radar. He looks for his second straight graded stakes score Saturday from gate 4 with Victor Espinoza in the irons.
Bayern 6-1 - Bob Baffert trained colt has 13 career starts and has placed in nine - five graded stakes scores with two Grade 1 wins included. He enters off an OK third in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap here July 25 after a disappointing tenth in the Grade 1 Met Mile June 6 and a last of six in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes May 2. Before that were superb wins in the Breeders' Cup Classic and the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby in September. He also had a tenth in last year's Grade 1 Travers and a two race win streak - the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park last July and the Grade 2 Woody Stephens by 7 1/2 lengths at Belmont Park June 7. Bayern has six wins in his 13 starts but will be after his first victory this year. Rafael Bejarano has been tabbed to ride from post 3 Saturday.
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Red Vine 6-1 - Christophe Clement pupil has five wins, six seconds and four third place finishes in 17 career starts and enters in pretty good form. Last time out was a second in his graded stakes debut - the Grade 3 Salvator Miles at Monmouth July 5. Before that was a nice win in is stakes debut - the minor Majestic Lights Stakes May 23. Before that he had two straight Allowance Optional Claiming scores - that's three wins and a second place finish in his last four. He is certainly trending up and will have Joel Rosario in the saddle from post 5.
Imperative 12-1 - last year's third place hadn't been great before a second last time out in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic in April. He won the 2014 Charles Town Classic but has had more bad results than good lately - an eight in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in March followed a sixth in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes February 7, a fifteenth in the Group 1 Champions Cup in Japan, a ninth in the Breeders' Cup Classic and a fifth in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes September 27. He looks for his first win in 18 months and enters in inconsistent form. Corey Nakatani rides from gate 6.
Class Leader15-1 - John Sadler trained colt has yet to place in two graded stakes tries but has third place finishes in three of his last four starts overall. Last time out was one of those thirds - the minor Michael G. Schaefer Memorial at Indiana Grand July 17. The other thirds over that span were Allowance Optional Claiming races. His last win came in May, 2014 - he has three wins, a second and three thirds in 13 career starts. Class Leader aims for his first ever graded stakes score when he leaves from the rail with Mike Smith guiding him.
Bailoutbobby 20-1 - Doug O'Neill pupil has 31 career starts with five wins, four seconds and six third place finishes. He arrives off a respectable second in the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap here July 24 after a disappointing eighth in the Grade 2 Californian at Santa Anita May 30. He placed in his previous three starts as well - a third in an Allowance Optional Claiming May 8, a second in a similar race in April and career best effort - a good second behind Sky Kingdom in March in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Stakes. Bailoutbobby looks for his first stakes score Saturday and to build on a good race last time out when he leaves from gate 2 with James Graham in the reins.
Midnight Storm 20-1 - lightly raced Philip D'Amato trained colt enters off a disappointing fifth in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes here July 18. This came after a close second place finish in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile which and a nice three race win streak - an impressive 7 3/4 length wire-to-wire Allowance Optional Claiming in April, the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby in dominant wire-to-wire fashion last August and an Allowance Optional Claiming score August 10. Midnight Storm has four wins and three seconds in 10 career starts and looks to bounce back from a career worst performance. Tyler Baze has the mount from the outside post.