Stakes Analysis: TVG Pacific Classic, Del Mar Handicap and Oaks
FRIDAY, AUGUST 17, 2018
Not sure why it is, but for some reason the PACIFIC CLASSIC is on one of our favorite races. Maybe it's the coolness of Del Mar. The whole where the "Turf meets the Surf" thing? Maybe because we've cashed a few nice tickets? Like when California Chrome won a few years back. Or maybe, there isn't much else competing for your attention on a lazy, warm, mid-August Saturday evening. Whatever the reason, we can't wait.
So, let's get right to our thoughts on the $1M G1 TVG PACIFIC CLASSIC. The race is 1 1/4 miles on the Del Mar dirt and is scheduled to go off around 9:43 pm eastern. Yesterday, we covered the Del Mar bias for races of one mile or more on the dirt.
What we discovered is that average fractions remained roughly the same, but horses were running closer to the front early on with an average position of 2.86 at the quarter pole. Looking at past-performances, ACCELERATE (PP: 5 - M/L 8/5), BEACH VIEW (PP: 6 - M/L 15-1) or PAVEL (PP: 7 - M/L 7/2) are the most likely to hold that spot.
The average winning positioning moves forward a touch to 2.71 at the 1/2 mile marker. Most of the horses mentioned will likely be in contention for the three-spot a half mile into the race. Maybe, long shot TWO THIRTY FIVE (PP: 8 - M/L 20-1) pokes his head in there, but we don't expect much shuffling, yet.
Now, the race gets going as the eventual winner is usually running second around 3/4 of a mile. DR. DORR (PP: 2 - M/L 6-1), who most likely has been near the lead, should be a major factor at this point. The question is does he fade into the pressure of oncoming hard-chargers? Another potential front-runner that will hear the heels coming is PRIME ATTRACTION (PP: 3 - M/L 8-1), who raced hard in his last coming off the bench.
The next furlong is where the race will be decided. We believe ACCELERATE is the horse to beat if he is ready. Our bonus commentary notes "Here's the deal. If ACCELERATE comes off the bench in top form, he'll be the one to beat. However, he hasn't fared so well in the last three first-time off a layoff starts: a second by 3 1/4 lengths, a 9th by 14 lengths, and another 3rd by 15. That's not how you spell confidence." Watch the replay of the Gold Cup at Santa Anita back on May 26:
Before the PACIFIC CLASSIC takes to the TVG airways, the $250K G2 DEL MAR HANDICAP runs in race 6, and the $300K G1 DEL MAR OAKS in the eighth. Both are on turf at 1 3/8 miles and 1 1/8 miles respectively.
In our Del Mar bias analysis we noticed turf routes (one mile or more) have held to form. The typical winner likes to run fourth/fifth from the gate to the 3/4 pole, and then it's to cracking the whip.
The way we see it, the DEL MAR HANDICAP is wide-open and offers a great betting opportunity. A 12-horse field with a morning-line favorite, ITSINTHEPOST (PP: 6 - M/L 7/2). That's the oddsmaker way of saying they don't know what is going to happen, and we agree.
From our bonus commentary: "Get this race right, and you are likely to cash a nice ticket, especially on the exotics. ITSINTHEPOST has put some of his best work in on the grass at Del Mar. He's won 10 of 35 turf races for a cool $1.2 million. If he runs to his Del Mar past, we wouldn't be surprised if ITSINTHEPOST adds to that total. Normally, speed is not in play for Del Mar grass routes. However, KENJISSTORM might be lone speed and capable of building a long lead on the rest of the pack. He'll need to hold off a charging cavalcade of closers to go wire-to-wire. MULTIPLIER might be a horse for the Del Mar turf course. In his last, and only run at the track, he popped a triple-digit speed rating; tops in the field last out. FASHION BUSINESS is likely to be waaaaaayyy back early on. Top jock Flavien Prat has ridden him before at Del Mar on the surface, finishing second by a head."
PAVED running at the Honeymoon Stakes, June 9, 2018
Like the HANDICAP, anything can happen in the DEL MAR OAKS. Another dozen horses with COLONIA (PP: 7 - M/L 7/2) as the morning line favorite. What more can a horse-player ask for? How about a winner?
We believe PAVED (PP: 6 - M/L 6-1) offers the best value. "In PAVED's short racing life, she's made it to a third race without a break once. That race was the first of two consecutive 100 speed ratings, and for the Win on the turf. As long as jockey Drayden Van Dyke keeps her closer to 5th-ish by the 1/2 mile marker, the third-time could be the charm again."
We can't wait to put our tickets in for Southern California racing on Saturday evening, but before that, there are five other $100,000+ stakes races; two at Saratoga, and one each at Monmouth Park, Woodbine and Thistledown.
It's a big day at the races, best of luck!
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