Pacific Classic 2023 Contenders at Del Mar

Horse Betting Online

Del Mar Press Release
Updated: August 29, 2023

The Pacific Classic is a "Win and You're In" race for the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic

Del Mar's richest and most prestigious race, the Grade I $1,000,000 Pacific Classic, a Win And You're In for the Breeders' Cup Classic, takes place on Saturday, September 2, 2023.

This 33rd edition of the Grade I Pacific Classic will feature a trio of 3-year-olds who'll step up and out of their category for the first time and take on their elders. Each will get a six-pound weight break - 118 as opposed to 124 - in the mile and a quarter that will be Race 10 with a post time of approximately 6 p.m. Pacific.

Two of those sophs - Pin Oak Stud's Geaux Rocket Ride and Zedan Racing Stables' Arabian Knight - have had their status underlined by being listed as the first and second choices in the morning line - "Rocket" and rider Mike Smith as the 5/2 favorite and "Knight" and jockey Flavien Prat right behind at 3-1.

2023 Pacific Classic Field & Odds

Race 10 at Del Mar on Saturday, September 2 - Post 9:13 PM

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Geaux Rocket Ride 5-2 Mike Smith
118 Lbs
Richard Mandella
2 Katonah 20-1 Antonio Fresu
124 Lbs
Doug O'Neill
3 Stilleto Boy 8-1 Kent Desormeaux
124 Lbs
Ed Moger, Jr.
4 Tripoli 20-1 Tiago Pereira
124 Lbs
John Sadler
5 Defunded 4-1 Juan Hernandez
124 Lbs
Bob Baffert
6 Order and Law 30-1 Edwin Maldonado
124 Lbs
Robert Hess, Jr.
7 Slow Down Andy 8-1 Mario Gutierrez
124 Lbs
Doug O'Neill
8 Senor Buscador 10-1 Geovanni Franco
124 Lbs
Todd Fincher
9 Arabian Knight 3-1 Flavien Prat
118 Lbs
Bob Baffert
10 Piroli 20-1 Umberto Rispoli
124 Lbs
Michael McCarthy
11 Skinner 10-1 Hector Berrios
118 Lbs
John Shirreffs

Two of those sophs - Pin Oak Stud's Geaux Rocket Ride and Zedan Racing Stables' Arabian Knight - have had their status underlined by being listed as the first and second choices in the morning line - "Rocket" and rider Mike Smith as the 5/2 favorite and "Knight" and jockey Flavien Prat right behind at 3-1.

Those two colts finished first ("Rocket") and third ("Knight") in the $1-million Haskell Stakes for 3-year-olds at Monmouth Park in New Jersey on July 22 in their most recent starts. The third 3-year-old in the lineup is C R K Stable's Skinner, who'll have Hector Berrios in the boot and has been pitched at 10-1 in the morning line.

Hall of Fame trainers Richard Mandella ("Rocket") and Bob Baffert ("Knight") condition the top two picks. Between them they've won 10 Pacific Classics already - Mandella with four and Baffert with six. Hall of Fame rider Smith has won the race four times, tying him with the late Garrett Gomez for most victories in it. A tally Saturday would put him first in that department.

The top threat among the older runners in the bunch is also trained by Baffert in Pegram/Watson/Weitman's Defunded, a four-time Graded stakes winner who will go off at 4-1 in the morning line under Del Mar's top rider, Juan Hernandez.

Besides its rich purse and Grade I prestige, the Pacific Classic is also a "Win and You're In" race for this year's $6,000,000 Breeders' Cup Classic, which will be contested at Santa Anita on Saturday, November 4. The Pacific Classic winner is guaranteed a spot in the starting gate for the country's richest race with all fees paid for entry.

The other four stakes on the card also carry Graded status, two at Grade II and the other pair at Grade III. They are:

(Race 7) Grade II, $300,000 Del Mar Mile for 3-year-olds and up at a mile on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course. It has drawn 10 starters.

(Race 11) Grade II, $300,000 Del Mar Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at a mile and three eighths on the turf. It has drawn 11 runners.

(Race 9) - Grade III, $150,000 Green Flash Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at five furlongs on the turf. It has lured a full field of 12, as well as three also-eligibles.

(Race 8) - Grade III, $150,000 Torrey Pines Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at a mile on the main track. It has 10 set to go.

The Del Mar Handicap and the Green Flash Handicap are also both "Win and You're In" Breeders' Cup races. The former is for runners in the $4-million Breeders' Cup Turf, while the latter is an entre to the $1-million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint.

Here's the field for the FanDuel Racing Pacific Classic in post position order with riders and morning line odds:

Geaux Rocket Ride; R23 Racing's Katonah (Antonio Fresu, 20-1); Steve Moger's Stilleto Boy (Kent Desormeaux, 8-1); Hronis Racing's Tripoli (Tiago Pereira, 20-1); Defunded; Buckendorf, Lambert or Rodriguez, et al's Order and Law (Edwin Maldonado, 30-1); Reddam Racing's Slow Down Andy (Mario Gutierrez, 8-1); Peacock Family Holdings' Senor Buscador (Giovanni Franco, 10-1); Arabian Knight, and Skinner.

Last year's Pacific Classic was won in a tour de force by the eventual Horse of Year Flightline under Prat. The Sadler-trained colt, owned by a partnership headed by the Hronis Racing's crew, put on perhaps the greatest performance in Del Mar history to capture the race in an eased-up 19 1/4-length triumph. Veteran track observers all agree the race was surely one of - if not the - best showings by a racehorse in Del Mar's long history.

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Pre-Draw News

PACIFIC CLASSIC HOPEFULS PUT IN FINAL WORKS

August 27 - The G1 FanDuel Racing Pacific Classic is less than a week away and many nominees for the $1 million race put in their final works this weekend.

Friday, Geaux Rocket Ride went seven furlongs in 1:25 (1/1). It was the 3-year-old's fourth work since his breakout win in the G1 Haskell at Monmouth Park last month. Two of those works were at seven furlongs, as trainer Richard Mandella readies the son of Candy Ride for his first race against older horses.

Saturday, Arabian Knight worked five furlongs in :59.60 (3/94). The son of Uncle Mo also ran in the Haskell, finishing third, and he's put in four works since returning to the West Coast and to the Bob Baffert barn.

The last 3-year old eyeing the Pacific Classic is Skinner. He worked five furlongs Saturday in 1:00.60 (22/94) for trainer John Shirreffs, who said he was waiting to see how his son of Curlin did in his final work before making a final decision on whether to run or not. The colt has put in six works since his last race, a runner-up finish to Reincarnate in the $125,000 Los Alamitos Derby on July 8.

Piroli worked four furlongs in :47.60 (9/124) on Saturday at Del Mar for trainer Michael McCarthy. His last race was a fourth-place finish in a second-level allowance race at Del Mar last month but before that he was runner-up to Defunded in the G1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita. He's worked three times since.

Stilleto Boy put in a nice five-furlong work Saturday for trainer Ed Moger, Jr., stopping the clock at 1:00.60 (23/96). The G1 Santa Anita Handicap winner is a go for the Pacific Classic next Saturday.

"We are going to run him," Moger says. "We breezed him Saturday and he came out of it good. He's been training great the whole meet and he's ready to run."

The son of Shackleford has worked six times since his last race, a sixth-place finish in the G1 Stephen Foster at Ellis Park.

Slow Down Andy worked six furlongs in 1:13.60 (9/14) on Saturday. He's worked three times since his runner-up finish to Senor Buscador in the G2 San Diego.

American Admiral worked four furlongs in :48.40 (38/126) Saturday at Del Mar. Trainer Tim Yakteen has worked the big, imposing son of American Pharoah three times since his eighth-place finish in the G2 San Diego last month.

Tripoli, the 2021 Pacific Classic winner, is being pointed to this year's race. He worked seven furlongs Saturday in 1:25.20 (1/1).

"He likes this track," trainer John Sadler says. "Last year we didn't want to run him (in the Pacific Classic) against Flightline. He was fifth in the prep (G2 San Diego) and Tiago (Pereira) said to us he had some trouble and with good luck he would have been second."

On Sunday, trainer Doug O'Neill sent out Katonah, who worked six furlongs in a bullet 1:12.00 (1/9). The Pleasanton Mile winner has worked three times since returning from Northern California.

The Pacific Classic is the feature on a five-stakes program next Saturday. The draw for the `Win and You're In' for the Breeders' Cup Classic will be held Tuesday at the Brigantine Restaurant in Del Mar.

2023 PACIFIC CLASSIC TAKES SHAPE ONE WEEK OUT

August 26 - Full fields have been commonplace during the summer meet so it's only fitting that Del Mar's marquee race would have a full field or close to it.

Nominations closed Thursday for the 33rd running of the G1 FanDuel Racing Pacific Classic at Del Mar September 2. Fifteen horses have been nominated for the mile and a quarter event, a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Of the nominees, three are 3-year olds facing older horses for the first time; six have won a race at Del Mar; four have won Grade I's, and one is a former winner of the Pacific Classic.

Trainer Bob Baffert has nominated three of his horses to the race. Doug O'Neill and John Sadler have two each. All but one nominee are based here at the seaside oval.

The trio of 3-year-olds are Zedan Racing Stables' Arabian Knight; Pin Oak Stud's Geaux Rocket Ride and C R K Stable's Skinner.

Arabian Knight is trained by Baffert. The colt raised eyebrows earlier this year with a dominating victory in the G3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park in January. But then he went on the shelf, missing the Triple Crown. He came back in the G1 Haskell at Monmouth Park last month and finished third.

Greyhound Betting

Geaux Rocket Ride won the Haskell in what many considered his breakout race. The son of Candy Ride is trained by Richard Mandella. He has won three of his four starts, the only blemish a runner-up finish to Practical Move in the G2 San Felipe in March.

Skinner is trained by John Shirreffs. The son of Curlin has only won once in six starts but he finished third in both the San Felipe and the G1 Santa Anita Derby and then was runner-up to Reincarnate in the $125,000 Los Alamitos Derby.

There was only one potential shipper on the nominations list and he ran Friday night in the Charles Town Classic so Giddyup Stables and Tom Lambro's Call Me Fast, a Dialed In colt out of the Michael Puhich barn, will not be making the trip.

Otherwise everyone else is familiar with the surroundings. Azul Coast and Defunded are the other two Baffert trainees. They are both owned by Pegram, Watson or Weitman and both have won at Del Mar: Azul Coast took the 2021 Native Diver, while Defunded won the 2022 version.

Also familiar with the Del Mar winner's circle are Buckendorf, Lambert or Rodriguez et al's Order and Law, winner of the G3 Cougar II last month; Peacock Family Holdings' Senor Buscador, who won the G2 San Diego; Reddam Racings' Slow Down Andy, winner of last year's Del Mar Derby, and Hronis Racing's Tripoli, the 2021 Pacific Classic winner.

The Grade I winners nominated for this year's Pacific Classic are Tripoli, Defunded, who won the Hollywood Gold Cup two races back, Geaux Rocket Ride, and the Santa Anita Handicap winner, Steve Moger's Stilleto Boy from the Ed Moger, Jr. barn.

The other nominees are R3 Racing's Katonah, winner of the Pleasanton Mile. O'Neill says that colt was battling foot issues earlier this month but they appear to have cleared up; Don Alberto Stable's Piroli from the Michael McCarthy barn, runner-up to Defunded in the Hollywood Gold Cup, and Donnie Crevier's American Admiral, an impressive looking son of American Pharoah trained by Tim Yakteen.

Bee Zee, Babington or Hudson et al's Missed the Cut was nominated for the Classic, but Sadler says he will go instead in the G2 Del Mar Handicap.

Entries for the Pacific Classic will be drawn Tuesday afternoon at the Brigantine Restaurant in Del Mar.

2023 PACIFIC CLASSIC: POTENTIAL FIELD GROWS TO 10

August 24 - The list of potential runners in this year's 33rd running of the G1 FanDuel Racing Pacific Classic is growing. You can add a Midwest invader, a local horse from the John Shirreffs barn, and a Pacific Classic winner from two years ago.

Tripoli won the Pacific Classic in 2021, beating the likes of Tizamagician and Dr. Post. He has struggled to get back to the winners circle since, his lone victory being an allowance race at Golden Gate Fields early this year. The 6-year old son of Kitten's Joy ran fifth in the G2 San Diego last month.

Trainer John Sadler's confidence in Tripoli should be growing following bullet works on consecutive weekends, the most recent on Saturday, a six furlong work at Del Mar in 1:12.60 (1/11).

Skinner is the third 3-year-old to jump on board for the Classic. The son of Curlin was last seen running second to Reincarnate in the Los Alamitos Derby and before that he ran third in the Santa Anita Derby, just a half-length behind the winner, Practical Move. Skinner's only win out of seven career starts was his maiden victory back in February. He ran twice at Del Mar last year including a third-place finish in the G1 Del Mar Futurity.

"We have another work to go," Shirreffs says. "Then we'll decide if we're going to go."

Skinner's most recent work came last Saturday. He went 7-furlongs in 1:26.40 at Del Mar (1/2).

The other new addition to the list of Pacific Classic possibles is Call Me Fast from the Michael Puhich barn. After posting runner-up finishes to Rattle N Roll in both the G3 Ben Ali at Keeneland and the G3 Blame at Churchill Downs. He ran fourth last out in the G3 Cornhusker at Prairie Meadows.

The 4-year old gelding by Dialed In worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 at Churchill Downs Saturday.

Bob Baffert is still planning to bring two of his heavyweights to the Pacific Classic.

He's worked Defunded three times in the past 10 days, two of them were bullet works. The most recent came this morning when he went 6-furlongs in 1:13.00, (1/8). The son of Dialed In is coming off of a fourth-place finish in the G2 San Diego.

Arabian Knight worked four furlongs in :47.60 (13/168) last Saturday. The 3-year-old son of Uncle Mo finished third his last time out in the G1 Haskell at Monmouth Park. Baffert says he's pleased with how the pair is training.

Geaux Rocket Ride, the winner of the Haskell, is another 3-year old testing older horses for the first time in the Pacific Classic. The Richard Mandella trainee worked seven furlongs in 1:25.40 at Del Mar last Friday.

Two horses coming off victories earlier in the summer meet at Del Mar are eyeing a run in the Pacific Classic. Order and Law won the G3 Cougar II last out. It was his first win since February of 2022 and his first graded stakes victory in his 42-race career. He worked this morning at Del Mar, going 5-furlongs in 1:00.60 (9/38).

"We're leaning that way," trainer Bob Hess says of the Pacific Classic. "We'll have a decision over the weekend."

Senor Buscador won the G2 San Diego, the local prep for the Pacific Classic. Trainer Todd Fincher is not afraid to put the 5-year-old son of Mineshaft in with the big boys and he rewarded Fincher with his first stakes win at Del Mar.

"It's a grade one," Fincher points out," and that's kind of important for a stallion prospect. With the right circumstances, he can definitely run with them."

Senor Buscador worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 (6/38) at Del Mar this morning.

Slow Down Andy also is being pointed to the Classic by trainer Doug O'Neill. The ultra-consistent colt was second to Senor Buscador in the San Diego. He hasn't won since taking the G2 Del Mar Derby last year but he did run third to Cody's Wish and Cyberknife in last year's Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland.

The son of Nyquist worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 at Del Mar August 14.

Stilleto Boy has been one of the main fixtures in the handicap division this year, running third in the Pegasus World Cup over the winter, taking the Santa Anita Handicap in the spring and running a close third in the Oaklawn Handicap. He's looking to rebound from a disappointing sixth in the G1 Stephen Foster at Ellis Park last out.

Stilleto Boy worked 6-furlongs in 1:14.60 (7/11) at Del Mar last Saturday.

The G1 Pacific Classic will headline a stakes-filled day of racing on September 2.

PACIFIC CLASSIC COUNTDOWN: HASKELL REMATCH LOOMS

August 13 - T-minus 20-days and counting to the 33rd running of the $1-million, G1 FanDuel Racing Pacific Classic and it's beginning to look like a possible rematch between two talented 3-year olds.

Geaux Rocket Ride and Arabian Knight locked horns in the G1 Haskell at Monmouth Park last month. It was a coming out party of sorts for Geaux Rocket Ride, who put away the Kentucky Derby winner, Mage, in mid-stretch and stormed home much the best that day.

His trainer Richard Mandella mentioned at the time the Pacific Classic was a possible next spot for the son of Candy Ride but once he got back to Del Mar with him he began considering the $125,000 Shared Belief Stakes as an option instead. The Classic would be against older horses, the Shared Belief is restricted to 3-year-olds so it would allow `Rocket' to stay with his own age group. In the end, Mandella went back to his initial intention to run in the Classic.

"We're a little heavier on the million dollars," Mandella says. "I have my price, you know."

Geaux Rocket Ride worked 5-furlongs Friday at Del Mar in 1:01.40. (21/45).

Bob Baffert's Arabian Knight faded to third in the Haskell after contesting a hot pace. The son of Uncle Mo was coming back from a five-month layoff and may have needed the race. He was the favorite in the Haskell off of his scintillating win in the G3 Southwest at Oaklawn in January.

Arabian Knight has worked twice since returning to the West Coast. His most recent was Friday, a 7-furlong move in 1:24.40.

Greyhound Betting

Baffert is also pointing Defunded to the Classic. He finished fourth in the G2 San Diego last month, but prior to that Defunded won the G1 Hollywood Gold Cup and the G2 Californian. The son of Dialed In has been a staunch competitor in the handicap division all year.

Defunded worked 4-furlongs Monday in :49.20. (34/64).

Stilleto Boy is another horse being considered for this year's Pacific Classic. Trainer Ed Moger, Jr.'s Santa Anita Handicap winner worked 5-furlongs Saturday at Del Mar and stopped the clock at :59.40, the fourth best time at the distance.

Rattle N Roll is on the list of `possibles' for the Classic. He's been running back east where he's developed into a top class racehorse. The son of Connect won three consecutive Grade III races at Keeneland, Pimlico and Churchill Downs before coming up short and finishing second to West Will Power in the G1 Stephen Foster at Ellis Park last time out.

Trainer Kenny McPeek is also considering the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup for Rattle N Roll, run on the same day as the Classic. He worked four furlongs in :50.55 at Saratoga Saturday, (52/65).

Trainer Bob Hess, Jr. has nominated Order and Law to the Pacific Classic. The winner of the G3 Cougar II at Del Mar last month was running in claiming races just four months ago. But he ran second in an allowance race at Presque Isle Downs in June and then came out to Del Mar and won the mile and a half Cougar, giving Hess the confidence to take a shot.

Order and Law put in his first work since his victory in the Cougar II, going 4-furlongs in :50.20 at Del Mar on Tuesday, (14/17).

Finally, trainer Doug O'Neill is considering two for the Classic. Slow Down Andy finished second to Senor Buscador in the G2 San Diego and O'Neill believes the son of Nyquist belongs.

His other hopeful, Katonah, has developed an issue that may prevent him from running. When last seen, Katonah was winning the $75,000 Pleasanton Mile.

"He's battling a bruised foot," O'Neill says. "So we have to play it by ear."

The G1 FanDuel Racing Pacific Classic is the marquee race on a stakes filled card on Saturday, September 2 at Del Mar. First post is 1:30 p.m.

Pacific Classic Quick Facts

Beholder became the first and only female racehorse to win the race in 2015, when she rolled to a near-record 8 ΒΌ length win. Just four other fillies have started in the race.

Trainer Bob Baffert has won the race five times, most recently with Collected last year.

Jockey Mike Smith has won four editions of the race, tied with the late Garrett Gomez for the most of any rider.

The betting favorite has won the Pacific Classic just eight times, but seven of those times came since 2004.