The 2016 TVG Pacific Classic is shaping up to be a historic contest this Saturday at Del Mar, but Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup champion California Chrome will have to overcome a tough post position draw: the rail.
“I wasn’t smiling too much after the one-hole was drawn,” trainer Art Sherman said. “I’d have loved to have been on the nine-hole, but hey listen: the best horse is going to win, no matter what. Being a former jockey, I know it’s going to be a jockey’s race.”
California Chrome’s typical race pattern involves being on or near the lead along the outside; both jockey Victor Espinoza and Sherman have expressed in the past that the 5-year-old does not like having horses on his outside. Granted, the son of Lucky Pulpit is having his best season ever, riding a four-win streak into the Pacific Classic.
“He’s a push-button horse,” Sherman continued. “If the two speed horses on the outside decide to play a little game, they better be tied on because we’ll be rolling.”
But Chrome will have to overcome more than just the rail draw. Also entered in the race is Beholder, the three-time Eclipse Award-winning mare trained by Richard Mandella, ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens. She drew the 7-post in the nine-horse field, but enters the contest off a stunning loss to fellow Eclipse Award-winner Stellar Wind in her last start. The loss snapped an eight-race win streak, which included defeating males in last year’s Pacific Classic.
“I got a big smile on my face,” Stevens told TVG’s Brittney Eurton of the draw. “I looked across at Richard [Mandella] and he just winked at me. I winked back at him… Dortmund right to my outside, California Chrome in the one-hole; it makes my job pretty simple.”
Also entered is a tough pair of Bob Baffert trainees. Dortmund was very game in defeat by California Chrome last out in the San Diego Handicap, and has only ever been beaten by Kentucky Derby winners. He will break from post eight under new jockey Rafael Bejarano. Hoppertunity was somewhat of a surprise entry, as Baffert had discussed sending the older horse to contest the Woodward in Saratoga. Entering the race off a 45-day layoff, Hoppertunity will break from post two under Flavien Prat. Dortmund is owned by Reston, Virginia resident Kaleem Shaw.
Reprinted from The Paulick Report.
Virginia residents can bet the action via one of our partner on line betting companies – TVG.com, XPressBet.com and TwinSpires.com. The Virginia Equine Alliance’s (VEA) first Off Track Betting Center will open in Richmond this fall in Breaker’s Sports Bar on West Broad Street in the TJ Maxx Shopping Center.