BONUS: This week on The Player's Edge, some big changes could be coming horse racing's way as some want to get rid of claiming races. Trainer Kris Fullerton tells us why replacing claiming races could be a good thing for the sport of kings.
Kris also discusses the relationship between trainer and jockey and a few horse specific clues to how a horse might run.
MAXIMUM SECURITY (PP: 5 ML 1-1) will look to add to his $11.87 million in prize money in the $500,000, Grade I, Pacific Classic at Del Mar Park this Saturday, August 22, 2020. Should he hit the finish line first for the 11th time in 12 starts, the oversized winners' check would put the four-year-old son of NEW YEAR'S DAY above $12 million in earnings.
He's already pocketed the sixth most money in history and would be a little more than $5 million away from ARROGATE'S record of $17,422,600, according to Equibase's lifetime winnings' rankings. To find the way into the winners' circle and add to his ft bank account, MAXIMUM SECURITY will need to get by five other horses in Del Mar's 10th race.
The field of six will race 1 1/4 miles on the main track. The distance as surface has favored early speed types in recent Pacific Classics. Four of the last 10 champs took the lead from the jump and never looked back, taking the prize wire to wire. Last year, HIGHER POWER (PP: 2 ML 3-1) ran second for the first 6 furlongs before taking over for good. Both ACCELERATE and BEHOLDER held firm in third place for the first 3/4 mile before moving to the front for the W.
MAXIMUM SECURITY and MIDCOURT (PP: 1 ML 7/2) appear to have the most initial burst. The Pacific Classic could be a rerun of when the two met in July. MIDCOURT got the early jump on MAXIMUM SECURITY in the Grade II, San Diego Handicap at Del Mar. Trainer John Shirreffs horse held off Bob Baffert's money making machine almost all the way to the wire, but MAXIMUM SECURITY was able to nose ahead at the wire.
Reigning and defending champion, HIGHER POWER, also ran in the San Diego handicap. He wasn't a factor at any point in the race, despite his third-place finish. To go back to back in the Classic, he'll need to return to the formula that worked for him last year, hug the leader(s) for the first half of the race and then hit the jets out of the turn and into the stretch. He hasn't won since, but his recent workouts have improved some; so, maybe he can repeat last year's performance; big maybe.
SHARP SAMURAI (PP: 6 ML 8-1) ran the highest, last race speed figure, but it was on grass. Trainer Mark Glatt hasn't run him on dirt since 2017. With only one win and nothing else in three tries, one can understand the surface swap early in SAMURAI's career. The turf to dirt angle works at 21% for Glatt; however, the six-year-old gelding's top dirt speed number is way, way below the top contenders. Based on his recent dirt workouts at Del Mar, it doesn't look like he'll be able to carry his turf measurable to dirt.
DARK VADER (PP: 4 ML 12-1) has finished in the money eight of his last 10 outings. Overall, he's hit the board in nine of his 12 dirt starts with threes in the win, place and show columns. He won his last start and first at Del Mar as the 4/5 favorite in a $62.5k Optional Claiming race. The move up in class could prove to be a high hurdle to clear. He'll try to do something no other horse has done in the last decade, win the Pacific Classic without running in a stakes race in the previous start.
MIRINAQUE (PP: 3 ML 10-1) is an unknown. He's coming from Argentina. He won four of five and a third on a fast South American dirt track but raced on turf in his last two and three of his last four. On the plus side, he's competed in five consecutive Grade I races and was the favorite in three of them. On the negative side is the lack of data and we couldn't find much of anything in the way of video.
We believe the Pacific Classic could look a lot like the San Diego Handicap. Here is how our handicapper wrote it up in our Pacific Classic Wagering Guide.
"MAXIMUM SECURITY could be the top horse in the world right now. Outside of MIDCOURT, the rest of the field doesn't appear to be on his level. Unless, HIGHER POWER runs back to his form in winning this race last year. It's a tough call between MIRINAQUE and DARK VADER. We tilt ever so slightly to MIRINAQUE."