The Pacific Classic is one of those races that Golden State horsemen point towards every year. A grade 1 event that is the richest race on the normal California calendar, this mile and a quarter drive over the Del Mar dirt has been a spring board to the Breeders’ Cup Classic in recent years. The 2018 running is no different, especially for one runner.

Pavel is a hard-knocking four year old that may have found himself during his last race. Always considered to have grade 1 talent by his team, this son of Creative Cause has started ten times in his career with nine of those coming in graded stakes company. Since winning the grade 3 Smarty Jones in his third career start last September, the Doug O’Neill trained colt did not find the winner’s circle in his next six outings. Granted, five of those races were grade 1’s including the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Dubai World Cup, but he had yet to cross the finish line first. All that changed back on June 16 when the Reddam Racing owned runner knocked one out of the park with a huge win in the grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs.

“We were so pleased with his performance in the Stephen Foster,” says O’Neill. “He really showed up that night. We were very excited to see that type of race, but we were not shocked. We have thrown him off in some pretty deep water since the early days of his career, but it was because we always knew he had some real talent. That Foster run was very impressive and we knew early on he could be a great two turn horse.”

Of course his next step toward greatness comes when he strides into the batters box in the Pacific Classic. Looking for another fastball, Pavel could be a horse on the rise as the Breeders’ Cup Classic draws ever closer and will be run at Churchill Downs. His powerful score beneath the twin spires back in June told us all he can go yard on the big stage. Following that with another grade 1 dinger in the Pacific Classic might just make him into a Reggie Jackson.

“It is such a thrill and an honor to start a horse in a race like the Pacific Classic,” says O’Neill, who won the race in 2006 with Lava Man. “What makes it even better is we are coming in with a real chance. Pavel has been doing extremely well and now we just need to build off the Foster win. I wish the race were tomorrow. To be able to compare him to a heavy hitter that wore the pinstripes says a lot about the talent level of this horse. We are really happy to have him and thank the Reddam’s for letting him be in our lineup.”

The Pacific Classic is slated for August 18 at the Seaside Oval just north of San Diego.