Charles Fipke’s well-travelled Seeking the Soul drew Post 5 Tuesday in a field of 10 and was installed the 3-1 morning line favorite for Saturday’s 29th edition of Del Mar’s premier test, the $1,000,000, Grade I TVG Pacific Classic, the west’s richest Thoroughbred race for older runners.
The stretch-running bay horse will be saddling up at his 10th different racetrack for the mile and a quarter headliner, coming off a sparkling tally in the Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs in Kentucky, a seventh lifetime victory that pushed his bankroll to a robust $3,335,802. He was handled by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez that day and the champion rider will jet west from his Saratoga headquarters to be on board again Saturday.
The TVG Pacific Classic is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, meaning the horse home first is guaranteed a spot in the starting gate for the $6-million Breeders’ Cup Classic, which will be run for the 36th time this year on November 2 at Santa Anita Park.
The TVG Pacific Classic will be one of five Graded stakes on the shore oval’s exceptional Saturday program, the first time that many major added-money events have been run on one Del Mar card. The day’s 11-race schedule is one of the best ever offered in the track’s 80-year history and its (non-Breeders’ Cup) single day betting mark of $25,870,431 may be in for a fall.
Trainer Dallas Stewart, who has guided Seeking the Soul over four seasons and 27 starts, was asked immediately after the draw if Post 5 was a good one. "Why not," he said. "My horse is doing good, he's training good and I expect a big race from him Saturday."
The TVG Pacific Classic, which was captured last year by champion Accelerate and has gone to Eclipse Award heroes California Chrome (2016), Beholder (2015) and Shared Belief (2014) of late, will reward its winner with a check for $600,000. Second place is worth $200,000 and running third pays $120,000.
Seen as Seeking the Soul’s chief rivals in what looms as a wide-open betting contest are Reddam Racing’s Pavel (7-2), second in this race last year and a winner of more than $2-million, and WinStar Farm and China Horse Club International’s Quip (9/2), another eastern invader who is a $1-million earner and was second to Seeking the Soul in the Stephen Foster last out.
The TVG Pacific Classic will be the 10th race on the day with a post time of approximately 6:35 p.m.
The complete field for the TVG Pacific Classic in post postion order with riders and morning line odds follows:
|Post Position||Horse/Jockey||Morning Line Odds|
|1|| WAR STORY
Tiago J. Pereira
|4|| FOR THE TOP (ARG)
|5|| SEEKING THE SOUL
John R. Velazquez
|6|| HIGHER POWER
Mike E. Smith
|9|| MONGOLIAN GROOM
|10|| DRAFT PICK