Best Bet on Card:
Race 3 #1 Amazing Satchmo
By NICKLAS YIP
Full of excitement in last Sunday as Blake Shinn and Douglas Whyte scored their first goal in the opener. Meanwhile, Joao Moreira a.k.a. The Magic was disappeared and he hopes a turn around this meeting.
Race 1 Bonham Handicap (Class 5,1200M, Dirt)
#1 Corre Rapido is classy in class 5, forget about class 4 as he can’t do well for sure, trial well, top pick. #2 Fortune Happiness already found himself over the same distance in class 5, with Joao on board and blinkers on, he can be a different horse this season. #3 Supreme Witness is too good in class 5 but not on this track. #6 Exponents ran OKAY in barrier trial but he is so inconsistent. #10 Run Mocchi always did well in trackwork, adding visor maybe a boost.
Selections: #1 Corre Rapido, #2 Fortune Happiness, #6 Exponents, #10 Run Mocchi
#1 Corre Rapido (Banker) with #2 Fortune Happiness, #6 Exponents, #10 Run Mocchi
Race 2: Caine Handicap (Class 4, 1600M, Turf)
#1 New Elegance has not won a race since December 2017, the first time dropped to class 4 with Zac on board, place chance. #2 Such A Happiness is a better horse with a smaller field. #3 Sunny Power is a tricky horse, but he needs blinkers on. #4 Amazing Agility a horse to watch, did extremely well in a barrier trial, distance is not an issue as he won this two years ago. #9 California Legend has improved so much from day 1 to now, good speed from trials recently, 1600m is more suitable.
Selections: #1 New Elegance, #2 Such A Happiness, #9 California Legend, #4 Amazing Agility
#9 California Legend
Race 3: Hollywood Handicap (Class 5, 1400M, Turf)
#1 Blazing Partners has shown a huge improvement in the offseason, if he shows calmly during the parade, he can be a horse to beat. #2 Flying Noble is fit under Benno Yung, huge chance. #5 Joy Master is another horse to watch, already proved himself in last 2 starts with some decent turn of foot, Joao knew it for sure. #12 Big Bully is in a good form but not easy to win.
Selections: #5 Joy Master, #1 Blazing Partners, #2 Flying Noble, #12 Big Bully
#5 Joy Master
Race 4: The Tung Wah Group Of Hospitals Challenge Cup (Class 4, 1200M, Turf)
#1 Momentum Happy cost $3.7 million in the Hong Kong International Sale, he will be proven his ability although a gate 12, he showed a quick gate speed from recent trials. #2 Shousan is improving but not this time. #3 Big Fortune is a good pacemaker, with gate 2, he can perform better. #5 Supreme Plus dropped back to 1200m will be a better horse. #7 Mischievous Sundae is improving during trackwork, Joao Moreira kept training him in the offseason, first timer at Sha Tin maybe a surprise one.
Selections: #1 Momentum Happy, #7 Mischievous Sundae, #3 Big Fortune, #5 Supreme Plus
#1 Momentum Happy, #7 Mischievous Sundae
Race 5: New Street Handicap (Class 4, 1200M, Dirt)
#1 Touch Of Luck did not show any improvement this offseason, that’s why changing gear may be useful. #3 Sky Treasure did well from the trials, but gate 12 is not easy to handle. #4 Generous Heart always did well on dirt track, place chance. #5 Gunnar gained some weight during the off-season to show he is getting muscular, ran extremely well from trials, pedigree OKAY for dirt, most Hinchinbrook’s son will be a flyer in 4 years old campaign, top chance. #6 Grand Harbour with gate 1 is a horse to watch. #7 Turf Brillant is a dirt specialist but he is not yet ready.
Selections: #5 Gunnar, #1 Touch Of Luck, #6 Grand Harbour, #4 Generous Heart
Race 6: Po Hing Handicap (Class 4, 1400M, Turf)
#1 Witness Hunter is classy in this class but he is not in the top form. #4 My Power can be a threat with gate 1 and lead in the front. #5 City Legend showed well from barrier trial, horse to beat. #10 Diamond Legend will be a better horse over a mile. #11 This One’s For You is a horse to watch, huge improvement in the morning. #14 Savvy Seven finally dropped back to 1400 meters, good draw a boost too.
Selections: #14 Savvy Seven, #1 Witness Hunter, #4 My Power, #5 City Legend
#14 Savvy Seven
Race 7: Po Yee Handicap (Class 3, 1200M, Turf)
#2 Cruising is not the same horse anymore, don’t overestimate. #4 Endearing did well in trackwork, carrying 127 lbs will be a good sign. #5 Solar Wai Wai dropped back to 1200 meters is a good move with a weaker field. #6 Victoriam didn’t show enough progress during offseason, maybe need a run. #8 Invincible Missile has shown the reason why Chris So is not good enough, not really progress during offseason.
Selections: #5 Solar Wai Wai, #4 Endearing, #6 Victoriam, #8 Invincible Missile
Race 8: Po Yan Handicap (Class 2, 1200M, Dirt)
#1 Dragon General still can provide a massive turn of foot with the top weights, ran well last two races in group 3, did well in the trials. #2 Yee Cheong Baby had a huge run in the barrier trial, unbeaten in two races. #3 Elusive State is the best dirt specialist in Hong Kong, not heading to Korea but instead staying in Hong Kong for this race. #5 Speedy King has a good form but Alfie Chan cannot handle it. #11 Sunny Boy is getting mature and switching jockey is a good move.
Selections: #3 Elusive State, #2 Yee Cheong Baby, #11 Sunny Boy, #1 Dragon General
#3 Elusive State
Race 9: Seymour Handicap (Class 3, 1200M, Dirt)
#2 Coby Oppa is getting in shape, cutting 30 lbs this offseason, did extremely well in the trial. #3 Young Legend’s pedigree showed he is capable to run on this surface, gate 12 not a matter as his gate speed is fast. #5 Alcari showed he is fit, the only concern is the ratings, maybe a place chance. #6 Mega Heart is recovering thanks to Michael Cheng, showed well in trackwork. #8 Silver Fig is full of potential, but not easy to win. #10 Joyful Moments with an apprentice is definitely a horse to watch.
Selections: #2 Coby Oppa, #3 Young Legend, #6 Mega Heart, #10 Joyful Moments
#2 Coby Oppa
Race 10: Tai Ping Shan Handicap (Class 3, 1400M, Turf)
#3 Coby Boy did well in the morning but there is a doubt he can back to top form. #4 Huangshan will make his debut in Hong Kong, he should be a group horse if he was not suffering injuries. #6 Gold Win is one to watch, finally settled the environment here. #10 Comfort Life with gate 1 can be a horse to beat. #11 Craig’s Star with blinkers on for the first time will make him a better horse. #12 I Do dropping to 1400 meters is not really a good move.
Selections: #11 Craig’s Star, #10 Comfort Life, #6 Gold Win, #4 Huangshan
#11 Craig’s Star
R5 #5 Gunnar
R9 #2 Coby Oppa
|Entry||Horse||Aus Fixed Odds||Jockey||Trainer|
|1||Mr Buff||11-1~ BET $25 RISK-FREE HERE||Jose Lezcano
|2||Bal Harbour||18-1~ BET $25 RISK-FREE HERE||Javier Castellano
|4||Mongolian Groom||14-1~ BET $25 RISK-FREE HERE||Luis Saez
|5||Preservationist||3-1~ BET $25 RISK-FREE HERE||Junior Alvarado
|6||Forewarned||60-1~ BET $25 RISK-FREE HERE||Anthony Salgado
|Uriah St. Lewis|
|7||Yoshida (JPN)||6-5~ BET $25 RISK FREE HERE||Joel Rosario
|8||Wooderson||14-1~ BET $25 RISK-FREE HERE||Jose Ortiz
|9||Tom’s d’Etat||4-1~ BET $25 RISK-FREE HERE||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
|Albert Stall, Jr.|
The $750,000, Grade 1 Woodward Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets is the closing Saturday showcase event at Saratoga’s summer meet.
The 1 1/8-mile Woodward is not a “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series automatic qualifying race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but the race is still an important prep for the Classic and has historical significance in its own right, having been won by legends such as Kelso (three years in a row), Damascus, Forego (four years in a row), Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid (in a walkover), Cigar (twice in a row), Ghostzapper, Curlin, and Rachel Alexandra (10 years ago as the first filly to win the race).
This year’s 66th running of the Woodward drew nine horses and will be broadcast live on FS2 as part of NYRA’s “Saratoga Live” program presented by Runhappy, Claiborne Farm, and America’s Best Racing, and also on TVG. For more information, click here.
1. Mr. Buff
Jockey: Jose Lezcano
Trainer: John Kimmel
Owners: Chester and Mary Broman
Career record: 30 starts – 10 wins – 6 seconds – 4 thirds
Career earnings: $678,786
Earnings per start: $22,626
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 114
Pedigree: Friend Or Foe – Speightful Affair, by Speightstown
Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace
Notable achievements and interesting facts: In a Woodward field that, on paper, is largely devoid of speed, this workmanlike gelding deserves a look. He enters Saturday’s race off of two consecutive dominant wins in stakes races restricted to New York-breds: a 6 ¼-length score in the June 30 Saginaw Stakes at Belmont; and a 3 ½-length win in the Aug. 7 Evan Shipman Stakes at Saratoga. In those races, he raced to the lead early and was never threatened. Overall, Mr. Buff has been racing well for more than a year, winning seven of 11 starts since August 2018 – although it must be noted that his one poor performance came when elevated to open-graded stakes company in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds on March 23. He pressed the pace through the far turn of the 1 1/8-mile race but fell back entering the stretch and stopped. He was walked off by jockey Junior Alvarado. Once back in New York and competing against fellow state-breds, the gelding has circled back to his best form. Obviously, he’ll face a class test even greater than the one he did in New Orleans on Saturday, but he’s 2-for-4 lifetime at Saratoga and has six career wins at 1 1/8 miles – both big positives. Alvarado has been aboard Mr. Buff for his prior five starts but will ride Preservationist in the Woodward. Trainer John Kimmel won the 2006 Woodward with Premium Tap.
2. Bal Harbour
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Owner: Red Oak Stable
Career record: 16 starts – 5 wins – 4 seconds – 2 thirds
Career earnings: $388,755
Earnings per start: $24,297
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 108
Pedigree: First Samurai – Casino Transaction, by Carson City
Running style: Stalker
Notable achievements and interesting facts: This multiple stakes winner nearly broke through and won his first graded stakes in his most recent start, losing by a head to veteran War Story in the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup Stakes July 20. That race was held at 1 1/8 miles, and it was Bal Harbour’s best effort yet in three starts at that distance. He’ll try nine furlongs again in the Woodward and, although he’ll be one of the longest shots in Saturday’s race, he should be considered for inclusion in exotic bets based on his consistency and competitiveness. This horse has improved gradually throughout his career and has strung together seven triple-digit Equibase Speed Figures in a row. Plus, he has a good, stalking running style for the Woodward and should be positioned in an advantageous spot behind the pacesetters but in front of the deep closers as the field makes its way through the far turn. Trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Woodward three times with Lawyer Ron (2007), Quality Road (2010), and Liam’s Map (2015). Javier Castellano was aboard Liam’s Map in 2015, and the Hall of Famer has two other Woodward wins with the great Ghostzapper in 2004 and Shaman Ghost in 2016.
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3. Vino Rosso
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4. Mongolian Groom
Jockey: Luis Saez
Trainer: Enebish Ganbat
Owner: Mongolian Stable
Career record: 14 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 3 thirds
Career earnings: $369,141
Earnings per start: $26,367
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 114
Pedigree: Hightail – Bourbonesque, by Dynaformer
Color: Dark bay or brown
Running style: Stalker/closer
Notable achievements and interesting facts: California-based Mongolian Groom ships across the country two weeks after running a decent, if nonthreatening, third behind impressive winner Higher Power in the TVG Pacific Classic Stakes at Del Mar. Prior to that start, he’d run even better when finishing second by a length to top-class Catalina Cruiser in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap. This veteran gelding may actually have reached the best form of his career over the past several months, but he’s constantly been matched against graded stakes competition and has proven to be just a cut below that level. This will be his second race outside of California following a fifth-place finish in the Charles Town Classic back in April. If he takes to Saratoga’s track, he could sneak into the trifecta on Saturday, but anything better than that would be a surprise. This is the first Woodward Stakes appearance for Mongolian Groom’s ownership group and trainer.
Jockey: Junior Alvarado
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens
Owner: Centennial Farms
Career record: 9 starts – 5 wins – 1 second – 2 thirds
Career earnings: $637,300
Earnings per start: $70,811
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 111
Pedigree: Arch – Flying Dixie, by Dixieland Band
Running style: Press the pace/stalker
Notable achievements and interesting facts: This lightly-raced 6-year-old tired to finish fourth in the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 3, which was his first career start around two turns. Preservationist set the early pace in the 1 1/8-mile Whitney but had no punch in the stretch and checked in 7 ¾ lengths behind winner McKinzie. That halted a three-race winning streak, highlighted by a dominant 4 ½-length score in the Suburban Stakes going 1 ¼ mile around one full turn at Belmont Park. If Preservationist gained useful experience from his first two-turn start in the Whitney and can move forward off of that start in the Woodward at the same distance and track, he has a good shot at winning on Saturday. He should be forwardly placed early on, along with Tom’s d’Etat and Mr. Buff, ideally sitting just off the pace under regular rider Junior Alvarado. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens won the 2016 Woodward with Shaman Ghost.
Jockey: Anthony Salgado
Trainer: Uriah St. Lewis
Owner: Uriah St. Lewis
Career record: 18 starts – 6 wins – 4 seconds – 0 thirds
Career earnings: $245,613
Earnings per start: $13,645
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 104
Pedigree: Flat Out – Fortune Play, by Five Star Day
Running style: Closer
Notable achievements and interesting facts: Racing for owner-trainer Uriah St. Lewis of Discreet Lover fame, Forewarned finished a well-beaten fifth at odds of 89-1 in his most recent start, the Whitney Stakes Aug. 3 at Saratoga, and then fell during the gallop out and unseated his jockey. That was his first graded stakes appearance in his 18th career start as he’d previously plied his trade in allowance races and stakes races restricted to Ohio-breds. As expected, the Whitney was a cavernous class jump for Forewarned, one he couldn’t successfully manage. The Woodward field lacks a superstar horse on the level of McKinzie but still appears too difficult a race for this hard-trying type to make much of an impact. He has posted three consecutive triple-digit Equibase Speed Figures, the first three of his career, and has been training steadily at his Parx Racing home base since his first trip to Saratoga. Uriah St. Lewis’s Discreet Lover finished 12th in last year’s Woodward, won by Yoshida, after posting a good third-place finish in the 2018 Whitney. Discreet Lover posted an upset in the Jockey Club Gold Cup in his first start following the Woodward.
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Trainer: Bill Mott
Owners: China Horse Club, WinStar Farm, and Head of Plains Partners
Career record: 16 starts – 5 wins – 4 seconds – 0 thirds
Career earnings: $2,370,770
Earnings per start: $148,173
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 116
Pedigree: Heart’s Cry – Hilda’s Passion, by Canadian Frontier
Running style: Closer
Notable achievements and interesting facts: The defending Woodward Stakes winner returns on Saturday seeking to double up for his ownership group, and he’s got some momentum building having run a good second to McKinzie in the Aug. 3 Whitney Stakes at the Spa. He has not won in five starts since taking the 2018 Woodward by two lengths, but showed good determination to make up some ground on McKinzie (who’s generally regarded as the top older dirt male in training) and lost by 1 ¾ lengths in the Whitney. Yoshida in turn defeated third-place Vino Rosso by 4 ¾ lengths in the Whitney, and if he can build on that effort he has a great chance to score a repeat win in the Woodward. The field for last year’s Woodward was arguably tougher than what Yoshida will face on Saturday, and Joel Rosario, who was in the irons for both Yoshida’s 2018 Woodward win and his recent runner-up finish in the Whitney, retains the mount. Yoshida will need a fast early pace in the Woodward to develop in order to set up his closing rally, but he’s shown the ability to come from way out of the clouds while racing wide before (as in last year’s Woodward win) and he’s been at his best when paired with Rosario, winning two out of three career starts. Rosario picked up his first career win in the Woodward aboard Yoshida, and it was Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott’s fourth career victory, following wins by the legendary Cigar in 1995 and 1996 and by To Honor and Serve in 2012.
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Owner: Let’s Go Stable
Career record: 9 starts – 3 wins – 3 seconds – 0 thirds
Career earnings: $171,830
Earnings per start: $19,092
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 116
Pedigree: Awesome Again – Lotta Kim, by Roar
Running style: Stalker
Notable achievements and interesting facts: This half-brother (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to 2009 Woodward winner and Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra has shown improvement so far in his 4-year-old season but will need to take a giant leap forward to win Saturday’s Woodward. He won his first two starts of 2019 — a seven-furlong allowance race at Keeneland and then a 1 1/16-mile allowance-optional claiming race at Monmouth Park — but then ran a disappointing 10th in the Grade 2 Suburban Stakes won by Preservationist. In his most recent start, Wooderson rebounded to finish one length behind another Woodward foe, Tom’s d’Etat, when second in the Alydar Stakes on Aug. 2 at Saratoga. He earned a career-high 116 Equibase Speed Figure in the Alydar and, if he can repeat that effort against a tougher field, he could sneak into the Woodward exacta. Of note: he has run very well in three starts at the Spa, breaking his maiden and then losing by a half-length there last summer along with his runner-up finish in the Alydar. Todd Pletcher has won the Woodward three times with Lawyer Ron (2007), Quality Road (2010), and Liam’s Map (2015).
9. Tom’s d’Etat
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
Trainer: Al Stall Jr.
Owner: G M B Racing
Career record: 13 starts – 7 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third
Career earnings: $716,892
Earnings per start: $55,146
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 118
Pedigree: Smart Strike – Julia Tuttle, by Giant’s Causeway
Running style: Press the pace
Notable achievements and interesting facts: This talented racehorse may finally be on the cusp of breaking through and securing his first graded stakes win in his 6-year-old season. He made a lasting impression to fans and horseplayers just over three years ago, when he broke his maiden in his third career start by four lengths at Saratoga. But then Tom’s d’Etat missed an extended period of time due to minor injuries, a storyline that would repeat itself again in 2017-18 when he was away for more than 13 months. In December 2018, he won his first listed stakes and then competed in three consecutive graded stakes to start off 2019, finishing second to McKinzie in the Alysheba Stakes Presented by Sentient Jet and third to Seeking the Soul and Quip in the Stephen Foster Stakes, both Grade 2 races at Churchill Downs. He then won his second career stakes race, the listed Alydar Stakes, by a comfortable length at Saratoga on Aug. 2. Based on the career-best 118 Equibase Speed Figure Tom’s d’Etat earned in the Alydar, he looms as a major win candidate in the Woodward, especially since he excels when racing on or near the lead and his two most accomplished foes – Yoshida and Vino Rosso – are deep closers. Joel Rosario was aboard Tom’s d’Etat in the Alydar but will ride Yoshida in the Woodward, and Irad Ortiz Jr., currently second in Saratoga’s competitive jockey standings, picks up the mount.
HOW TO BET
#9 TOM’S D’TAT TO WIN @ 4/1
Race 5 – Forego Stakes
Race 6 – Ballerina Stakes
(Fillies’ Grade 1)
2.COME DANCING* $1.65
Race 7 – H. Allen Jerkens Stakes
Race 8 – Ballston Spa Stakes
(Fillies’ Grade 2)
2.FIFTY FIVE $6.50
Race 9 – Personal Ensign Stakes
1.MIDNIGHT BISOU $2.00
Race 10 – Sword Dancer Stakes
(Fillies’ Grade 1)
4.CHANNEL CAT $5.50
Race 11 – Travers Stakes
2.CODE OF HONOR $3.60
The Road to the 2019 Breeders’ Cup World Championships makes a stop at one of racing’s premier venues this Saturday for Del Mar’s signature race, the $1 million, Grade 1 TVG Pacific Classic Stakes. With the winner getting an all-expenses-paid “Win and you’re in” ticket into November’s Breeder’s Cup Classic at Santa Anita.
This year’s 29th running of the Pacific Classic drew a competitive 10-horse field highlighted by the 1-2 finishers of the Grade 2 Stephen Foster Stakes in June, Seeking the Soul and Quip.
Whether you want to gamble a few bucks on the race or you just want the scoop on this year’s runners, we’ve got you covered with our 2019 TVG.COM Pacific Classic Betting Cheat Sheet.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: War Story was a rising star on the Kentucky Derby trail back in 2015, but ever since running 16th in the 141st run for the roses he’s built a career as a lunch-pail racehorse capable of grabbing purse shares in lucrative races (such as earning a total of $900,000 for finishing fifth and 10th in the first two runnings of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational). He returns to Del Mar for the third time on Saturday, and will look to repeat his good fourth-place showing in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic, won by Gun Runner, rather than his seventh-place finish in the 2016 Pacific Classic, won by California Chrome. War Story comes in off of a win July 20 in the Grade 3, 1 1/8-mile Monmouth Cup Stakes, where he out finished Bal Harbour to win by a head. That effort indicates that even as he prepares to make his 36th career start, War Story still has the will to compete, and although his win chances are slim in the Pacific Classic, he’s shown more than enough ability throughout his career to merit strong consideration as a trifecta and superfecta filler. California-based jockey Tiago Pereira will ride War Story for the first time Saturday.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: This talented racehorse ships in from points East to try for an elusive Grade 1 win, and he’ll face off again with Seeking the Soul. Both exit the Grade 2 Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 15, when Quip duelled with classy Tom’s d’Etat for most of the 1 1/8-mile race and put that foe away in the final furlong but then could not withstand Seeking the Soul’s late charge and lost by a neck. Quip won the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap in his start prior to the Stephen Foster in a game effort, and prior to that, he ran third in his 2019 debut in the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope Stakes at Gulfstream Park after a nine-month layoff. At age 3, Quip won the Grade 2 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby and finished a good second in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby before disappointing in the Preakness Stakes. Based on that impressive two-year record, there’s an aura of untapped potential surrounding this colt that suggests a Grade 1 victory is well within his ability. The main concern with Quip is distance, as he’s been unable to finish the deal in two of his three starts at 1 1/8 miles despite good tries in both the Arkansas Derby and Stephen Foster, and he only won the Oaklawn Handicap by a neck. Still, Quip has shown plenty of fight throughout his career and figures to be near the early lead and battling all the way into midstretch under Florent Geroux, who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic aboard Gun Runner at Del Mar in 2017. This is the first Pacific Classic start for both Geroux and trainer Rodolphe Brisset. Co-owner WinStar Farm campaigned 2008 Pacific Classic runner-up Well Armed.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: Last year’s Pacific Classic runner-up returns for another try on the heels of a decent third-place finish behind Preservationist and Catholic Boy in the Grade 2 Suburban Stakes July 6 at Belmont Park. He’s been training steadily at Del Mar since then for Doug O’Neill and, on the positive side, won’t face a monster like 2018 winner Accelerate in this year’s edition of the Pacific Classic. On the other hand, he has not visited the winner’s circle since taking the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap in June 2018 — easily his career-best race — and has generally continued his usual pattern of picking up hefty checks in prestige races by obtaining minor placings (he’s finished fourth seven times in his career, all in graded stakes, and earned $1.1 million with two such efforts in the 2018 and 2019 Dubai World Cups). Pavel can be counted on to usually make up some ground in the late going, but he doesn’t exactly have a swift turn of foot, and one wonders if regular rider Mario Gutierrez won’t put him in the race a little earlier on Saturday than usual. In his Stephen Foster win, Pavel stalked the pace and took over coming out of the far turn at Churchill Downs to get the jump on his opponents, and such a strategy might give him a better chance at winning (or at least hitting the board) on Saturday. As it stands, Pavel is an underlay on the morning line at 7-2 odds. Gutierrez was aboard Pavel in last year’s Pacific Classic, which boosted trainer Doug O’Neill’s overall record to one win, one second, and two thirds from 12 Pacific Classic starts. O’Neill won the 2006 renewal with fan favourite Lava Man. J. Paul Reddam has finished second one other time as sole owner besides last year, with Momentum in 2002; he also co-owned 2010 runner-up Crowded House.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has won the Pacific Classic five times, second behind the late Bobby Frankel’s six victories, but he’ll be represented by a longshot in Saturday’s renewal with For the Top after stable star McKinzie instead was pointed to — and impressively won — the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga Aug. 3. This Argentine-bred won two of five starts in his home country, including a Group 1 stakes on dirt at about 1 ½ mile, before coming to the U.S. earlier this year. He made his debut in a one-mile allowance-optional claiming race at Santa Anita in June and finished last of four after pressing the early pace (fellow Pacific Classic starter Draft Pick rallied from last to win). He then started in the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap at 1 ½ mile at Del Mar and again tired late after pressing the early pace to finish third behind another Pacific Classic foe, Campaign. It will be interesting to see if Baffert tries a different running style with For the Top in the Pacific Classic since the horse has been out finished in both of his U.S. starts, but the presence of Martin Garcia, one of the best pace jockeys in California, in the irons suggests that For the Top will be in the front ranks once again on Saturday. Garcia has won the Pacific Classic twice, both times for Baffert, aboard Game On Dude in 2013 and Collected in 2017. Baffert’s three other Pacific Classic wins came with General Challenge in 1999 and with Richard’s Kid in 2009 and 2010. Baffert has also finished second three times and third once.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: In this current era of horse racing, Seeking the Soul qualifies as a throwback. Unlike fellow Pacific Classic starter War Story, who has eight more career starts but is a gelding, this 6-year-old still has a prospective career at stud on the horizon. Still, he has been sent all around the U.S. for four years running by owner-breeder Charles Fipke and trainer Dallas Stewart — and even to Dubai earlier this year. More often than not, he’s answered the bell against some of the best racehorses in training. That includes his most recent start, a sharp win at Churchill Downs in the June 15 Grade 2 Stephen Foster Stakes, in which he out finished Pacific Classic fo Quip to score by a neck. That victory pushed Seeking the Soul’s career earnings over the $3 million mark, and he enters the Pacific Classic as the 3-1 morning-line favourite. He deserves that distinction, but it must be noted that Seeking the Soul is 0-for-2 in races longer than 1 1/8 miles and, as a closer, will be dependent on a good pace scenario and a clean trip to set up his late kick. Still, he’s arguably in the best form of his career, the recent Dubai trip aside, and has excelled when teamed up with Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the saddle. One of the best jockeys at judging pace and timing a horse’s rally, Velazquez should have Seeking the Soul in a good position to make his customary stretch rally in Saturday’s race. This will be the first Pacific Classic start for Velazquez, Stewart, and Fipke.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: After winning three of his first nine starts racing on the Midwest circuit, Higher Power was bought by Hronis Racing and sent to California and John Sadler. He joins Sadler-trained Campaign as a worthy contender in the Pacific Classic at what should be attractive odds, although he’ll need to muster a career-best performance to have a shot at winning, and even that might not be enough. His two best starts for Sadler have been his most recent ones, both coming on turf: a win in a one-mile allowance-optional claiming race at Santa Anita in June and a runner-up effort in the July 21 Wickerr Stakes at Del Mar. Higher Power picks up current Del Mar leading jockey Flavien Prat for the Pacific Classic, a big plus. Look for Prat to place his mount behind the early leaders through the first six furlongs and make a bid for the lead entering the far turn. A consistent type, his form has improved since moving to California and he should be considered for exactas and trifectas. Sadler picked up his first win in the Pacific Classic last year with Hronis Racing’s eventual Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and champion Accelerate, and he’s also finished second twice and third twice from 12 starts.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: Beginning with this well-bred colt’s second start, which was his second consecutive win to start off his career, he’s alternated good and bad performances over the past year and a half. If he keeps up the pattern, Tenfold should show up in Saturday’s Pacific Classic after making absolutely no impression in the June 15 Grade 2 Stephen Foster Stakes. He finished ninth of 12 in the Foster, 17 lengths behind Seeking the Soul, and he mustered only an 83 Equibase Speed Figure without any apparent excuse. Prior to the Foster, Tenfold tallied his second career graded stakes win in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special Stakes, defeating You’re to Blame by a neck … but that followed a seventh-place finish to Quip in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap. You get the picture. This Steve Asmussen trainee has flashed enough talent to defeat the likes of Vino Rosso and Flameaway in the 2018 Jim Dandy Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets and to come three-quarters of a length shy of Justify in last year’s Preakness Stakes, but he’s also appeared overmatched at the top level several times, as noted above. Tenfold has a good, stalking running style and is bred for the Pacific Classic’s mile-and-a-quarter distance, and Hall of Famer Mike Smith gets on him for the first time Saturday, a big plus. Smith is tied with the late Garrett Gomez as the winningest rider in the Pacific Classic with four victories: Came Home (2002), Richard’s Kid (2009, 2010), and Shared Belief (2013). He’s also finished second once and third twice.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: Even with the announcement that Catalina Cruiser would skip the Pacific Classic and compete in one-turn races going forward, trainer John Sadler still has a pair of legitimate contenders entered in Saturday’s mile-and-a-quarter contest. Campaign is more accomplished than stablemate Higher Power in dirt races and figures to get some betting support in the Pacific Classic based on his current form and, even more so, on his proven ability in long-distance routes. The Curlin colt first drew attention last fall on turf, winning races at 1 ½ mile and then 1 5/16 miles during Kentucky Downs’s short meet for trainer Steve Asmussen. In February, he resurfaced in California under Sadler’s care and has since competed exclusively on dirt, winning three of five starts including the Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup Stakes in April at Santa Anita and the Cougar II Handicap most recently on July 24 at Del Mar, both at 1 ½ mile. This horse is a grinding type who rates well back off of the pace and methodically makes his way through the homestretch picking off foes, and he’s a logical choice to hit the board if a fast pace develops in the Pacific Classic. Sadler picked up his first win in the Pacific Classic last year with eventual Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and champion Accelerate, and he’s also finished second twice and third twice from 12 starts. Jockey Rafael Bejarano has piloted Campaign in both of his stakes wins; he’s finished third twice in the Pacific Classic.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: If this workmanlike gelding runs back to his most recent start, he’ll have a chance to spice up the exotic ticket payoffs in the Pacific Classic. Mongolian Groom came up a length short to odds-on favourite Catalina Cruiser in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap July 20, Del Mar’s prep race for the Pacific Classic, but kept churning through the stretch in a game effort. Four starts prior to the San Diego, he finished third behind Gift Box and McKinzie at odds of 53.50-1 in the Santa Anita Handicap Presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino. He usually can be counted on to make up ground in the stretch with a sustained rally, and his only throw-out race through his prior nine starts came this past June when he unsuccessfully tried turf. As such, Mongolian Groom is a must-use in trifecta and superfecta tickets on Saturday, but his win chances are very slim against accomplished graded stakes opponents such as Seeking the Soul, Quip, Pavel, and others. Abel Cedillo retains the mount after his good ride on Mongolian Groom in the San Diego. He is seeking his first win in the Pacific Classic, as is trainer Enebish Ganbat and owner Mongolian Stable, who memorably won the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in 2015 with Mongolian Saturday.
Notable achievements and interesting facts: This son of 2003 Pacific Classic winner and track-record setter Candy Ride has returned in good form for his two starts this year. After a 10-month break, he won fresh off the bench by a neck in a one-mile allowance-optional claiming race at Santa Anita in June and then ran a solid third behind top-class Catalina Cruiser in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap, pressing that foe through the backstretch and far turn before tiring a bit late to lose by 2 ¼ lengths. Draft Pick has not competed at 1 ¼ mile before but prefers route races and has a good press-pacing running style that will allow jockey Joe Talamo to put him in a good spot early. This colt has never finished worse than fourth in his 11 starts and earned a career-high Equibase Speed Figure in the San Diego Handicap. Two notes of concern: he’s only faced three other opponents in each of his two starts this year, and in Quip and Tenfold, he’ll be squaring off against two stakes-winning East Coast shippers who also share the same running style. Talamo is winless in seven prior Pacific Classic starts, and this will be trainer Peter Eurton’s first starter in Del Mar’s signature race. Lee and Susan Searing’s C R K Stable finished second in the 2013 Pacific Classic with Kettle Corn.
Bet #2 Quip for the win at 9/2
2019 Arlington Million (G1)
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I. Ortiz, Jr.
J. Valdivia, Jr.
2018 Race Replay
The Arlington Million was the first thoroughbred race to offer a purse of US$1,000,000. It is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series, and the winner automatically qualifies for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.
The Arlington Million was introduced in 1981 by Joe Joyce, the dad of TVG’s Mike Joyce and the president of Arlington Park at the time. The winner receives 60% of the million-dollar purse and the Arlington Million Trophy. The race was graded after only its second running and was awarded a grade one status in 1983 based on the talent of the runners that raced in its first two years
Even with Bricks and Mortar’s presence, the Grade 1 Arlington Million still drew a healthy field size of 10 this year, with four European-based entries. While the competition looks overmatched on paper compared to the near-invincible form of Bricks and Mortar, in racing anything could still happen.
One other horse attracting attention is Robert Bruce, who won this race last year. Plus, familiar European-based runners Magic Wand and Hunting Horn ship over here again for trainer Aidan O’Brien, and Bandua carries the hopes of the local horses.
The Arlington Million’s post time is set for 6:12 p.m. CDT Saturday 10 August.
1. Robert Bruce, 7-2 (Fast Company – Chad Brown/Javier Castellano – 13: 8-2-0): The expected second choice gets to save all the ground with the rail post. Toss out his Fort Marcy Stakes (G3) flop, as he needed the race. The runner-up finish in the Manhattan Stakes (G1) is a better barometer of his ability. With that said, Bricks and Mortar still finished 1 ½ lengths ahead, which is a sizable margin on turf. But there is still the chance he improves in his third start off the layoff. Last years winner of this race. Main Danger.
2. Magic Wand, 5-1 (Galileo – Aidan O’Brien/Wayne Lordan) – 16: 2-5-2): This filly has disappointed since winning at Royal Ascot last summer. In her most recent start, she finished a dismal 11th in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1). Her second in the Pegasus World Cup Turf to Bricks and Mortar earlier this year is credible, but she keeps losing. After the Pegasus, she ran fifth in the Dubai Sheema (G1) and third in the Man o’ War Stakes (G1), before runner-up finishes in the Wolferton Stakes and Pretty Polly (G1) in Europe. Hope
3. Bricks and Mortar, 8-5 (Giants Causeway – Chad Brown/Irad Ortiz Jr. – 11: 9-0-2): How do bettors play against this horse? Since returning in December, he is undefeated with wins in the Pegasus World Cup Turf, Muniz Memorial Handicap (G2), Turf Classic Stakes (G1) and the Manhattan Stakes (G1). In most of those races, he looked clearly the best from a visual standpoint, and the small margin in the Muniz Memorial is forgivable because of the slow pace. Clear Top pick.
4. Catcho En Die, 30-1 (Catcher in the Rye – Naipaul Chatterpaul/Sophie Doyle – 13: 5-1-1): With a ninth-place finish in the Manhattan, followed by an eighth in the United Nations Stakes (G1) against a weak field and an 11th in the Bowling Green Stakes (G2), it is hard to imagine why the connections want to run. Roughie.
5. Hunting Horn, 12-1 (Camelot – Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore – 19: 2-2-5): In Europe, this is a constant also-ran for O’Brien. Sometimes he will pick up a minor check, as he did when running fourth in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1) behind Crystal Ocean and Magical at Royal Ascot. On this soil in 2019, he ran fourth in the Man o’ War Stakes (G1) after setting a fast pace and third in the W.L. McKnight Stakes (G3). If he fires, a minor award is the limit. Place Best.
6. The Great Day, 12-1 (Harlan’s Holiday – Arnaud Delacour/Trevor McCarthy – 13: 4-6-1): This one finished a decent second in the Arlington Handicap (G3), 1 ¾ lengths behind Bandua. But if that effort is his best, he cannot contend in the Arlington Million with Bandua entered again and better horses present as well. Hard to Have.
7. Pivoine, 15-1 (Redoute’s Choice – Andrew Balding/Silvestre De Sousa – 19: 6-0-1): Some bettors might find a new European invader intriguing, but his overall class is lower than Magic Wand or Hunting Horn. Even though he won the Diamond Jubilee Cup in his most recent start, no real competition ran against him. Pivoine also tried the Gordon Richards Stakes (G3) and Al Rayyan Stakes (G3) earlier this year and finished sixth and fourth in those two races respectively. Not for Me.
8. Captivating Moon, 20-1 (Malibu Moon – Chris Block/Jose Valdivia Jr. – 14: 2-6-4): His third-place effort in the Arlington Handicap, 3 ¾ lengths behind Bandua, will not cut it against this group. In his only other start at the Grade 1 level, he ran fifth in the Secretariat Stakes (G1) on this card last year. Looks Tough.
9. Intellogent, 12-1 (Intello – Fabrice Chappet/Florent Geroux – 11: 3-1-2): The other new European face finished fourth in the Prix d’Ispahan (G1). Although the race is labeled as a Group 1, it is not a “true” Group 1 as the winner Zabeel Prince went on to finish seventh in the Prince of Wales’s, eighth in the Coral-Eclipse (G1) and seventh in the Sussex Stakes (G1). Earlier this year, Intellogent also finished last in the Prix Ganay Stakes (G1), 13 ¼ lengths behind Waldgeist. Place Hope.
10. Bandua, 6-1 (The Factor – Jack Sisterson/Adam Beschizza – 12: 3-1-1): Bandua did look sharp winning the Arlington Handicap, but who did he beat? None of the big names from the Manhattan were present, making the race a bit of a cakewalk. With that said, Bandua’s sixth in the Manhattan is better than it looks as he chased a fast pace. He is still young and improving. Not Hopeless.
3. Bricks and Mortar, On the nose / straight out!