PONDERING THE PACIFIC CLASSIC
Whoa…Time flies when you are having fun…that is fo sho !!!
A quick glance at the calendar tells us this is one of the most glorious weeks of the year. Pacific Classic week has become one of my favorite parts of our revolution around the sun. Hard to believe, but it has been nine years since me and my filly first went West and discovered one of the most fabulous places on earth.
The brainstorm of Bing Crosby, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is way more than where the turf meets the surf. It’s a place where memories are made and dreams are fulfilled. I am kind of mushy about it as for obvious reasons my streak of attending is about to be broken. But alas, hopes are next year is a new beginning.
Here is a quick hitter on each of the past eight Classics. As the biggest race of the summer meet at old Del Mar, we’ll also provide a thought on 2020.
THE ROMANS THUNDER-It was 2012 and the synthetic surface saw three year old Dulahan use a powerful late kick to run down Game On Dude. Rolling like an untracked train, this strapping Dale Romans trainee shipped in and stormed his way into the record books at the Seaside Oval.
THE DUDE HAS HIS DAY-One of the best handicap horses in the Golden State, Game On Dude had been denied his spot on the Clubhouse wall the year before. Not this time. Breaking like a shot and leading at every call, it was Game On for this Dude as he bolted to an 8 ½ length win.
SOME REAL BELIEF-The 2014 edition was supposed to be a coming out party for a spectacular three year old but the break said different. Slow out of the gate, Shared Belief looked to be doomed…until the stretch that is. Unleashing the stride that had made him the heavy favorite, his will never waivered. As his backers had thought, Shared Belief was best.
BEHOLD HER-In a race that really was a thing of beauty, Beholder looked like Ava Gardner in becoming the only female winner of the Pacific Classic. Taking the boys to the woodshed under jockey Gary Stevens, she put’em away with a jaw dropping move on the far turn. Covering the mile and a quarter in pin-up poster time (1:59.77), Beholder’s 8 ½ length win was gorgeous.
BRIGHT AND SHINY- The 2016 Classic saw one of the most dominant performances ever…in any race anywhere. A super talented field and a rail draw were standing between California Chrome and the winner’s circle. Fearlessly piloting him to the lead right out of the gate, jockey Victor Espinoza rode like he had the best horse because…he did. Chrome shined brightly that day as he scored by six lengths.
CALM, COOL, AND COLLECTED-Bob Baffert was supposed to win the race…and he did. Super freak Arrogate was looking to get back to his accustomed ways, but somebody forgot to tell that other Baffert trainee, Collected. An old-time rider for the Baffert barn, jockey Martin Garcia stuck with what has made him and this horse dangerous. Hustling his mount out of the gate, they held off a closing stable mate.
NAMESAKE NO DOUBT-In 2018, Accelerate went to post as the biggest favorite in Classic history. Then he ran like it. Displaying the dynamics that made him the best in the game that year, this John Sadler trainee was much the best. Winning by a record 12 ½ lengths, Accelerate hit the gas pedal a quarter mile from home and never looked back.
MUCH NEEDED BY ALL-A life without faith is an empty life, that’s one of my live by axioms. A believer in the omens of horse racing, we all need a little something to believe in, especially today. Higher Power broke well and exuded his authority throughout. Running brilliantly under Flavian Prat, this John Sadler trained son of Medaglia d”Oro surged to the lead and held steadfast in heavenly fashion. Higher Power superbly represented the sport in name and performance.
WHAT ABOUT 2020?- We will find out on August 22 if Maximum Security is all that and a bag of chips too…my bet… pass the Pringles please.