The Pacific Classic features not just a $1 million purse, but several interesting storylines. The most recognizable one surrounds Richard’s Kid being kidnapped from the Bob Baffert barn in a deal the trainer called shady and unprofessional. The Hall of Famer trainer will counter his former two –time Pacific Classic winning horse with the vaunted Game on Dude and rebounding Jaycito. Richard’s Kid now races for Doug O’Neill, but will be listed under Leandro Mora as O’Neill is on suspension. Meanwhile, the legendary Ron McAnally will send out Argentinean wonder Suggestive Boy. Let’s break down this race which is set for Sunday at 8:05 EST!
#1 Rail Trip (Jump Start x Sweet Trip by Carson City) 10-1: This ol’ boy is back on his game after a failed stint in New York. When last seen he pressed the pace on his way to a victory in the San Diego Handicap. Some of his best races have been at today’s trip. Jose Valdivia Jr. rides back and will likely send from the inside. Ron Ellis trains the bay gelding for Jay Em Ess Stable.
#2 Amani (Morning Raider x Just Fine by Doneraile Court) 5-1: Magnificent bay filly dominated her competition in Chile before finishing a hard charging third in the Clement Hirsch Stakes behind Include Me Out. She bobbled the start in that race. Trainer Neil Drysdale has decided to equip lasix for the first time. Jockey Garrett Gomez finds himself on a filly that likes to make one run. That could be bothersome as she doesn’t project to get too much pace. One the bright side, she is classy as they come and will love the extra ground provided by the Pacific Classic.
#3 Richard’s Kid (Lemon Drop Kid x Tough Broad by Broad Brush) 7/2: Seven-year-old will seek to become the first three-time winner of the Pacific Classic. He looked to be headed the wrong direction in Dubai, but found new life when returning to the United States. He dominated the Prove It Stakes by 7 ¼ lengths before rallying to be second beaten 1 ½ lengths in the Hollywood Gold Cup. After that, he broke the track record en route to a win in the 1 ½ miles Cougar II Handicap. New jockey Victor Espinoza will ride for the first time since missing by a nose on Richard’s Kid in the 2009 Cougar II Handicap.
#4 Where’s Sterling (Northern Afleet x Twinkler by Benny The Dip) 15-1: Late mover has won two races in a row at Calder, but will step way up in class this time. He has faced good horses in the past, finishing second in the Hawthorne Gold Cup and a close fourth in the Donn Handicap. It’s encouraging to see a :59 3/5 H five furlong move over the Del Mar track. Paco Lopez will make the trip to ride for 32% trainer Luis Ramirez.
#5 Dullahan (Even The Score x Mining My Own by Smart Strike) 6-1: Half brother to Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird has done his best running on synthetic surfaces where he owns a record of 2-2-0-0 with both wins coming in Grade 1 races. It’s great to see the connections committing to a big time synthetic race like this one. It’s important that jockey Joel Rosario doesn’t lose touch with the field. He can close with the best in the country, but even the greatest closers are at the mercy of the pace. Dale Romans, who seemingly wins every big race of late, is the trainer.
#7 Jaycito (Victory Gallop x Night Edition by Ascot Knight) 12-1: It was nice to see this Zayat colt score an allowance win last out. The Grade 1 winner has struggled since his juvenile season, but is showing flashes of his former brilliance. Despite that, he has caught a very deep field and might not be ready just yet. Two things in his favor are jockey Rafael Bejarano and the distance. This guy is bred to run for days
#8 Suggestive Boy (Easing Along x Suffrage by Horse Chestnut) 5-1: Ron McAnally has been raving about this colt for weeks. The Argentinean bred and raced son of the Storm Cat stallion Easing Along won four of six races in his native land. Since arriving in the U.S. he finished a good second in the Shoemaker Mile behind Jeranimo despite having been off for nearly nine months. The third place finisher in that race, Little Mike, returned to score the Arlington Million. He followed that effort up with a win in the Wicker Stakes. This will be his first race on a synthetic surface, but he is training like a bear on the stuff. He was clocked in 1:37 3/5 H for a mile August 17. That’s about as good as it gets for a mile work. Joe Talamo retains the mount on this bay colt that figures to run a career best race.
#9 Game on Dude (Awesome Again x Worldy Pleasure by Devil His Due) 5-2: Good luck finding a knock on this gelding. He has won four of his past six races with two of those races coming against Grade 1 company. He was also second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in that span. His game has always been clear; go to the lead and try to hold everything off. It has worked quite well as his heart as big as they come. He loves to throw down and duel and is the one to beat. Chantal Sutherland stays aboard for trainer Bob Baffert.
#10 Riveting Reason (Fusaichi Pegasus x Love and Marry by Known Fact) 30-1: Trainer Myung Kwon Cho can pop up with a live long shot from time to time, but this one looks to be over his head. He is an important entrant nonetheless as he figures to hook the favorite early. If that happens, it improves the chances of every other horse in the race. David Flores retains the mount.
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