Saturday’s $1-million TVG Pacific Classic, already called by many the best edition of the Grade I headliner Del Mar has ever presented, will feature three superstars and nine runners all told in a mile and a quarter battle royale that will unfold as the highlight of an 11-race program at the shore oval.
Heading the sparkling lineup for the 26th running of Del Mar’s signature race is the 2014 Horse of the Year and North American earnings champion California Chrome, who’ll break from Post No. 1 with regular rider Victor Espinoza in the irons.
“Chrome,” currently riding a four-race win streak that includes the $10-million Dubai World Cup and sporting a bankroll that reads $12,652,650, will have to face two of the best horses in training in the champion mare Beholder – the smashing winner of this race last year – and the handicap ace Dortmund, who gave “Chrome” all he could handle before finishing a grudging second in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 23.
California Chrome has been installed the 8/5 morning line favorite with Dortmund, who breaks from Post No. 8 and has Rafael Bejarano aboard, second choice at 5/2. Beholder, who’ll be handled by her regular guy Gary Stevens coming out of Post No. 7, is listed right behind at 3-1.
The weight-for-age conditions of the TVG Pacific Classic dictate that all older male horses carry 124 pounds, while the female Beholder gets a weight break at 119 and the field’s lone 3-year-old, Dalmore, will go with 118.
The winning horse will earn a check for $600,000 for his or her victory. The other awards are $200,000 for second; $120,000 for third; $60,000 for fourth, and $20,000 for fifth.
The TVG Pacific Classic is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race, meaning the winning horse is guaranteed admittance into the field of a specified Breeders’ Cup race. In the case of the TVG Pacific Classic, the winner will be assured a starting spot in the $6-million Breeders’ Cup Classic when it is run at Santa Anita on November 5.
The highly anticipated contest, which will be presented as the 9th on an 11-race program, is expected to go off at approximately 6:15 p.m. (Pacific). It will be televised on the TVG Network.
The complete field with riders in post position order with odds follows:
California Chrome 8/5; Hoppertunity, Flavien Prat, 8-1; War Story, Ricardo Mejias, 30-1; Hard Aces, Santiago Gonzalez, 15-1; Win the Space, Joe Talamo, 15-1; Imperative, Norberto Arroyo, Jr., 20-1; Beholder; Dortmund, and Dalmore, Kent Desormeaux, 20-1.
First post Saturday is at 2 p.m.