This Saturday, August 22, 2015, at Del Mar Racecourse, champion mare Beholder, will be taking on nine males in the Grade I Pacific Classic. This will be the first time the 5YO mare will face males in her illustrious career, where she’s won 13 of her 18 previous starts against her own gender. Beholder has won the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies in 2012 and the Breeders Cup Distaff in 2013, among other races, such as the 2014 Zenyatta Stakes. Right before the 2014 Breeders Cup, Beholder became ill, and was forced to scratch from the race. She was withdrawn from the 2014 November Fasig-Tipton Sales, and given time to recover. She was returned to racing this season, and is 3 for 3. Beholder comes into the Pacific Classic off of a smashing 4 length victory in the Clement Hirsch, a “Win and You’re In ” qualifying race for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on August 1, 2015. Therefore, Beholder is all set for the Distaff.
[adinserter block=”2″]After her victory in the Clement Hirsch, Beholder’s trainer, Richard Mandella stated that he was considering running her in the Pacific Classic against males. That was a bombshell, and three weeks later, here is Beholder against 9 fellow stakes winners and stakes placed horses. Should Beholder win on Saturday, not only would she make history by becoming the first female to win the Pacific Classic, but since this race is a “Win and You’re In” qualifying race for October’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, Beholder would be automatically entered into the Classic. As I previously mentioned, Beholder has already qualified for the Distaff. Imagine what kind of decisions her owner B. Wayne Hughes, of Spendthrift Farm, would have to make if she had two Breeders’ Cup races that she could run in? I certainly wouldn’t want to be him, even though I think she’s going to wind up running in the Distaff.
Of course, she has to win the Pacific Classic first. In this blog, I am going to review the field of horses for the Pacific Classic. As in previous blogs, I am going to give my readers a link to the field, and then analyze each horse. As this is a 10 horse field, I think I will discuss each horse individually, and then give my handicapping advice.
Here’s the field for the Pacific Classic:
EVENT: TVG Pacific Classic
VENUE: Del Mar Racecourse
POST TIME: 6:10PM, PT / 9:10PM, ET
WEIGHTS: All carry 124. Beholder carries 119.
1. CLASS LEADER: From looking at his past performances, I am not sure if I see this son of Smart Strike as a contender. He was 3rd in his last 3 starts. The John Sadler trainee’s last start was at Indiana Downs at 1 3/4 miles in the Michael G. Schaefer Memorial Stakes, where he came in 3rd. His last win was the Sir Barton last year as a 3YO. He gets Mike Smith in the irons.
2. BAILOUTBOBBY: This Doug O’Neil trainee finished second to Big John B in the Cougar II Handicap at 1 1/2 miles last time out at Del Mar. However, from looking at this horse’s past performances, he has a very inconsistent record. The Cougar II was a Grade 3. This is a pretty steep climb. James Graham gets the mount.
3. BAYERN: As you know, Bayern won the most controversial edition of the Breeders Cup Classic last year. However, this year, he doesn’t appear to be the same horse. Most racing fans know that Bayern is a horse that needs the lead. However, Bayern just seems to lose any kind of fight. This horse is a puzzle. In the San Diego Handicap, he just got 3rd. I would bet with caution, despite his being trained by Bob Baffert (one of my favorite trainers). Rafael Bejarano is the rider.
4. HARD ACES: This son of Hard Spun won the Gold Cup at Santa Anita on June 27th, last time out. Hard Aces benefited from a strong pace and a smart ride from Victor Espinoza, who will be riding him in the Pacific Classic. The Gold Cup was Hard Aces’ first graded stakes win. I like this horse, but I think this John Sadler trainee is in over his head.
5. RED VINE: This horse is one to watch. He’s trained by Christophe Clement, trainer of 2014 Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist and 3 time Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti. Red Vine switched from turf in his first 13 starts to dirt in his last 3. The turnaround has been amazing. In his last 3 starts, Red Vine has finished 1st or 2nd. He finished 2nd in the Salvator Mile at Monmouth Park on dirt. He’s ridden by Joel Rosario. Red Vine is sired by Candy Ride, who’s won the Pacific Classic.
6. IMPERATIVE: The last time Imperative ran was in the Charlestown Classic. He finished 2nd to the recently retired Moreno. We’re talking about a horse coming off a 4 month layoff, as the Charlestown Classic was on April 18th. Even though Imperative finished 3rd in the Pacific Classic last year, I think winning this race is a tall order for this horse. He will provide some speed. Corey Nakatani rides.
7. CATCH A FLIGHT: Richard Mandella not only has Beholder in the Pacific Classic, but Catch A Flight, winner of the San Diego Handicap, last time out. I really like this horse. He comes from off the pace. I would expect him to be sitting right off the speed, and then make his move in the stretch, like he did in the San Diego. As Gary Stevens decided to ride Beholder, Flavian Prat will get the mount. I would use him in exotics.
8. HOPPERTUNITY: This Baffert trainee is a puzzle that I can’t figure out. He shows promise, only to blow it when the chips are down. He should have won that Gold Cup. I don’t know if it was because the son of Any Given Saturday blew the turn, but that horse needs to put it all together. His last Grade 1 win was the 2014 Clark Handicap. Martin Garcia is in the irons. I would use him in exotics at the very least.
9. BEHOLDER: Here’s the favorite for the Pacific Classic, Beholder. Richard Mandella trains her, along with Catch A Flight. Gary Stevens will be riding Beholder. For handicapping purposes, I think she has a great chance here. She’s outside of the speed in post 9. She is a speed horse herself, but I think Gary Stevens can get her to rate and relax. I realize that she’s never been past 1 1/8 miles, and is sired by Henny Hughes. However, she’s crushed her competition this year, and I am not all that impressed with this field, save a few of them. I think she has a shot. Her connections have been very conservative with her, and I don’t think they’d throw her in the race if they didn’t think she’d be able to compete. I’d use in exotics.
[adinserter block=”1″]10. MIDNIGHT STORM: This son of PioneeroftheNile is going from his last 4 starts on turt to dirt. The Philip D’Amato traineed has some dirt experience in his early career. I don’t see this horse even hitting the board. He does have some early speed though. Tyler Baze gets the mount.
I would toss this horse.
PICK: Before I make my pick, I want to thank you for reading this blog. I hope that if/when you do make bets, that you bet with your head, and not over it. Now, without further ado, I am going to make my prediction of the the winner of the 2015 Pacific Classic, according to my analysis. Feedback is welcome.
PREDICTION: Beholder will win the Pacific Classic.
UPSET SPECIAL: Red Vine.