2017 Pacific Classic Contenders

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The 27th running of the $1,000,000 Pacific Classic will be held on Saturday, August 19 at Del Mar. The mile and a quarter race, which will reward its winner with a prize of $600,000, will go off at approximately 5:40 p.m. as the 8th race on an 11-race card.

The Pacific Classic field, from the rail out, is Royal Albert Hall, Collected, Accelerate, Sorry Erik, Hard Aces, Donworth, Curlin Road, and Arrogate. Both Accelerate and Hard Aces are trained by John Sadler. Doug O'Neill trains both Curlin Road and Donworth.

**Songbird will return to Saratoga to run in the $700,000 Personal Ensign on Aug. 26 rather than taking on male horses in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar**

ROYAL ALBERT HALL (GB) (30-1) - PP1

CONFIRMED - Royal Albert Hall drew the rail for his first start since finishing fourth and being claimed for $50,000 at Del Mar the day after the San Diego Handicap. This five-year-old began his career racing in Great Britain on the synthetic track at Kempton. All but five of his career races have been on the turf.

Since moving to the U.S., he has won only once more in 21 starts on turf - in a 1 ¼-mile allowance/optional claiming race on Santa Anita's grass back in March 2016. He's competed in several turf stakes races, and run well a few times without winning, but his new owners are making a gigantic leap into the unknown by entering him in the Pacific Classic for his first try on dirt.

Jockey: Corey Nakatani | Trainer: Kristin Mulhall


COLLECTED (5-2) - PP2

CONFIRMED - Collected, a romping 14-length winner in the Precisionist Stakes in June at Santa Anita last out, covered five furlongs in 1:01 flat under regular rider Martin Garcia. Collected will try 10 furlongs for the first time in terrific form.

"He went very nice, looked really good, like his usual self," trainer Bob Baffert said. "Nothing really serious, but we did his serious work last week." Collected worked a mile in 1:37.20 on August 7.

Since returning this April, he's won three races by a combined margin of 21 ½ lengths, including a 14-length romp in the Grade 3 Precisionist Stakes in June (he received a 125 Equibase Speed Figure for that win, the second-highest career figure in the Pacific Classic field). He's got plenty of natural speed and will be on or near the lead the once the starting gate opens, and his jockey, Martin Garcia, is known for his penchant to aggressively contest the pace.

Jockey: Martin Garcia | Trainer: B. Baffert


ACCELERATE (3-1) - PP3

CONFIRMED - Accelerate would be looking for a third straight triumph over Arrogate, North America's No. 1 ranked thoroughbred, in the 27th running of the Grade I Pacific Classic at 1¼ miles on the main track. Accelerate won the Grade II San Diego Handicap in a race that was more memorable for Arrogate's distant fourth-place finish - more than 15 lengths behind the winner - as the 1-to-20 favorite.

Overall, he's been somewhat underrated among the California contingent of dirt runners, as he rarely fails to fire and has only finished out of the money once in 12 career starts. In most of his races prior to the San Diego, he usually pressed the pace or even sat back in a stalking position rather than going to the lead, and it will be interesting to see if Victor Espinoza allows his horse to settle early in the Pacific Classic or urges him straight to the front again.

Jockey: Victor Espinoza | Trainer: J. Sadler


SORRY ERIK (30-1) - PP4

CONFIRMED - Sorry Erik, as the only 3-year-old in the race, will be the only horse racing with a six-pound advantage (118 rather than 124) and will break from post 4. Sorry Erik is a non-stakes winner of four races including his most recent victory of an allowance on the turf at Del Mar. Prior to that he finished fourth in the Ohio Derby (G3) behind Irap and Girvin. He was on Kentucky Derby trail where he was fifth in the Louisiana Derby and seventh in the Risen Star. With his current form, the Pacific Classic is a tall order.

Jockey: Kent Desormeaux | Trainer: J. Keith Desormeaux


HARD ACES (20-1) - PP5

CONFIRMED - 7 year old son of Hard Spun easily has the most experience in the Pacific Classic field with 42 career starts, and after a desultory beginning to his 2017 campaign where he was unplaced in the San Antonio Stakes and Santa Anita Handicap, he's strung together three strong efforts, winning the Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup Stakes in April, finishing third in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita in May, and then losing by a nose to Curlin Road in the Cougar II Handicap last month at Del Mar.

Hard Aces has finished in the money in 25 of his 42 career starts and must be respected.

Jockey: Santiago Gonzalez | Trainer: John W. Sadler


DONWORTH (15-1) - PP6

CONFIRMED - This colt showed promise right from the start of his career and performed very well as a 3-year-old in 2015, winning two of four starts. He held second while losing plenty of ground to Accelerate in the final furlongs of the San Diego and the 5-year-old will be seeking his first win since being transferred to Doug O'Neill last year, his lone stakes tally coming in 2015 in an off-the-turf event at Delaware Park.

Despite not having won in five starts since, he's displayed enough talent to lead one to wonder if his best races are still ahead of him.

Jockey: Mario Gutierrez | Trainer: Doug F. O'Neill


CURLIN ROAD (20-1) - PP7

CONFIRMED - This 4-year-old gelding tallied his first stakes win in the July 26, 1 1/2-mile Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar, rallying to nip Hard Aces by a nose. That was only his second career start in a stakes race, and his first since September 2016. He does his best running from off of the pace and has a jockey in Flavien Prat who is known for his patience.

Curlin Road (6f, 1:12.80 under Flavien Prat). He worked in company (with Mopotism) and showed how he's a complete pro and how much he likes this track. With a record this year of 7-3-0-3, the 4-year-old is entering off of his first career graded stakes win, the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap.

Jockey: Flavien Prat | Trainer: Doug F. O'Neill


ARROGATE (Odds Even) - PP8

CONFIRMED - Arrogate, No. 1 in the world, finished fourth in the San Diego Handicap, but trainer Bob Baffert's resolve hasn't seemed to waver. The loss snapped a seven-race winning streak for Arrogate, whose most recent win in the Dubai World Cup pushed the 4-year-old colt's career earnings to more than $17 million. Arrogate is also the defending champion of the Breeder's Cup Classic.

"He just didn't fire," trainer Bob Baffert said in the wake of Arrogate's loss in the San Diego Handicap. "It happens. If it happens again there'd be concern."

He was never involved in the San Diego at any point on July 22, settling farther off of the pace than normal, and he fizzled soon after Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith asked him for run entering the far turn. The presence of fellow Bob Baffert trainee Collected in the Pacific Classic should make the early pace more contentious than Accelerate's free ride in the San Diego - which could be to this champion's benefit if he is able to fashion a stalking trip similar to his conquest of California Chrome in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic.

Juddmonte Farms' Arrogate put in his final bit of major exercise for this Saturday's $1-million Pacific Classic when he drilled four furlongs in :47.60 on a cool morning at Del Mar Monday.

Jockey: Mike Smith | Trainer: B. Baffert


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