by Dustin Fabian
August 16, 2018
Del Mar’s signature race takes place this Saturday and yours truly couldn’t be any more excited for the festivities. Not only is the Pacific Classic loaded with a solid field of older horses, but the card also includes the G1 Del Mar Oaks and G2 Del Mar Handicap. Each race drew a field of 12 and they should be great betting races.
You can get all of our picks in Xpressbet’s FREE Pacific Classic Wager Guide. It includes betting strategies, analysis and facts and trends you won’t see anywhere else.
Plus, if you love betting big fields that Late Pick 5 and Late Pick 4 are for you. The Late Pick 5 includes two Grade 1 races and has 52 horses entered. The Late Pick 4 features fields of 12 horses, 12 horses, 8 horses and 12 horses. Can’t beat that! Plus, if you hit the Late Pick 4 with your Xpressbet account, you'll win a Split of 1 Million XB Rewards Points. Then you can cash in your Points on Xpressbet swag, wagering credits, past performances and more.
First post at Del Mar for the Pacific Classic card is 5PM ET and the Pacific Classic goes as Race 10, at 9:43PM ET.
To get your handicapping started, here is a brief bio of each Pacific Classic horse, along with my recommended Late Pick 4 ticket underneath.
1. The Lieutenant (McCarthy/Van Dyke) – 6/1
He’s a half brother to Triple Crown winner Justify and really seems to be coming into his own this year. He finished behind Dr. Dorr in a pair of stakes races at Santa Anita in March and April, but since then he’s won the G3 All American on the synthetic track at Golden Gate and finished second in the G2 Suburban at Belmont. The horse that beat him that day is a guy you’ve heard of – Diversify. The Lieutenant outfinished Tapwrit, Hoppertunity and Discreet Lover in the Suburban and will be running late again here.
The Bottom Line: He’s a huge threat to run in the Exacta, Trifecta or Superfecta. I don’t think he has the top-end ability to beat this field, but he can sit back and make a threatening run. He’s the type of horse I like to use as my underneath key in Tris and Supers.
2. Dr. Dorr (Baffert/Talamo) – 6/1
Wow, have the tables turned for Dr. Dorr. A few months ago, he was one of the up-and-coming stars of this division in California. Now he’s an afterthought. That’s what three straight losses will do to you. He’s raced a lot lately – seven starts since December 31 – and his win in the G2 Californian came against a weak field. Bob Baffert has won the Pacific Classic five times and one more victory would tie him with Bobby Frankel for most all time. That said, it appears unlikely this will be the year that Baffert catches Frankel.
The Bottom Line: His form has tailed off and he just looks like a horse without a running style. He was crushed by Catalina Cruiser in the G2 San Diego Handicap and it’s hard to envision him getting better at extended distances. He’s 0-for-3 at Del Mar, which doesn’t help either.
3. Prime Attraction (Cassidy/Desormeaux) – 8/1
What do you make of a horse that has lost three straight dirt races and runs the best races of his life on the turf? He nearly took the field in the G2 Eddie Read wire-to-wire last out and is a perfect 2-for-2 on the dirt at Del Mar. Now the bad news – he’s 0-for-2 at the distance and was beaten 16 3/4-lengths and 20 1/4-lengths in his two tries. He wants to do his running while on or near the lead, and the same can be said for several of these. Odd man out?
The Bottom Line: The more you look at his past performances, the more you’re going to like this horse. He’s in the money in 8-of-16 (including seven Exacta finishes) and won the G3 Native Diver here in November. He’s finished behind Accelerate three times since December 26, 2017 and, again, while not a threat to win, he could hit the board.
4. Roman Rosso (ARG) (Baffert/Van Dyke) – 5/1
The ‘other’ Baffert-trainee is a complete unknown on US soil. Roman Rosso brings his show to California after racing exclusively in Argentina and Uruguay for his first eight starts. He racked up a trio of G1 wins in South America, but how good was the competition? And can he replicate those performances at Del Mar? One thing is certain – with Bob Baffert calling the shots and Flavien Prat in the irons – he’ll be given every chance to excel.
The Bottom Line: First time Baffert and first time Prat are huge angles, as is the fact that he got every good in the last year while racing in Argentina and Uruguay. Problem is, he’s just so unknown and you have to wonder if the price (5/1) is too low. With any other trainer he’d be 15/1, right?
5. Accelerate (Sadler/Rosario) – 8/5
The probable Pacific Classic favorite, Accelerate enters Del Mar’s signature race as the richest ($1.7 million) and winningest (seven victories) horse in the field. And, if that’s not enough, he’s also the one that seems to love Del Mar the most, boasting three wins where the ‘Turf Meets the Surf.’ Knocked last year for being allergic to winning (he was just 1-for-8 in ’17), Accelerate has really found his groove this year, winning 3-of-4 race including a pair of G1’s. Favorites have won four of the last five editions of the Pacific Classic and this guy could easily make it five of six. Note that he’ll be ridden by Joel Rosario as regular jockey Victor Espinoza continues his recovery from a fractured vertebra.
The Bottom Line: He’s absolutely the horse to beat and it isn’t even close. His past performances and accolades simply overshadow each of his rivals and, barring something unforeseen, he should be the horse smiling for the camera Saturday night.
6. Beach View (Powell/Bejarnao) – 15/1
If you put a lot of stock into recent form, Beach View might be the horse for you. He won the G3 Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar on July 25, making him the only one of Saturday’s starters to have a local victory during the 2018 meet. He’s never raced at the G1 level and he’s never been in against horses this good, but he’s proven at the distance and don’t be shocked if he sits back and makes a run to finish in the Trifecta or Superfecta.
The Bottom Line: As I mentioned above, I won’t be shocked if he runs well late, especially if they go fast early. He took advantage of such a scenario to win the Cougar II (and beat Hoppertunity in the process) and Rafael Bejarano is a veteran of this circuit. Patience is key for this son of Giant’s Causeway.
7. Pavel (O’Neill/Gutierrez) – 7/2
He’s one of three horses already ‘in’ the Breeders’ Cup Classic by virtue of his victory in Churchill Downs’ G1 Stephen Foster on June 16. That win snapped a six-race losing streak and gave a glimpse of the Pavel handicappers expected to see after he won the G3 Smarty Jones and finished a close-up third behind Diversify in the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup last fall. If he’s able to build on the confidence he gained in the Stephen Foster, he’ll be right there at the finish. Trainer Doug O’Neill saddled Lava Man to victory in the 2006 edition of this race.
The Bottom Line: He’s a really divisive horse. On one hand, he’s won the G1 Stephen Foster and G3 Smarty Jones in laughers and ran huge in the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup last year. On the other, he was fourth in the G2 Sam Pasqual, fourth in the G1 Santa Anita Gold Cup and fourth in the G1 Malibu. If he brings his best race, he’ll finish in the Exacta. Otherwise he might finish…fourth.
8. Two Thirty Five (Baltas/Ceballos) – 20/1
A late entry to the field, Two Thirty Five will need a ton of assistance getting the job done here. He was fourth, beaten 8 3/4-lengths, by Catalina Cruiser in the G2 San Diego and I guess you can say he was only 1 3/4-lengths behind Dr. Dorr that day. But that may be more of an indictment on Dr. Dorr than an accolade for Two Thirty Five. His earnings ($129K) are the lowest in the field.
The Bottom Line: He’s a complete pass for me.
My Recommended Late Pick 4
Race 8: 4, 6, 7
Race 9: 4, 7, 8, 10
Race 10: 5
Race 11: 4, 6, 8, 12
Total Bet: $24.00 for 50-cents