by Tom Quigley
$1,000,000 TVG.com Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar
Race 10 (Saturday, August 17: 2019: 9:30 p.m./ET: 6:30 p.m./PT)
Mile and a quarter on the main track (three-year-olds and upward)
The most prestigious race of the summer meet at Del Mar, the $1,000,000 TVG.com Pacific Classic (G1), features a competitive cast of ten runners this year, four of whom are already millionaires. But does that mean it’s as easy as just isolating those four as our main contenders? Let’s take a closer look at the field:
#1 WAR STORY is a hard knocking dude that ships west for trainer Jorge Navarro. Son of NORTHERN AFLEET most recently defeated BAL HARBOUR and COAL FRONT in the Monmouth Cup (G3) but is 0-for-5 record going a mile-and-a-quarter. Looking elsewhere.
#2 QUIP dueled on the lead before stubbornly surrendering to #5 SEEKING THE SOUL, who only finished a neck in front of this guy. Winstar Farm LLC homebred does not need the lead and may be peaking into top form for underrated horseman Rodolphe Brisset. Big possibility.
#3 PAVEL comes off a solid third place finish behind PRESERVATIONIST in the Suburban (G2) going a mile-and-a-quarter at Belmont. However, he is o-for-8 at this distance and has a pretty inconsistent record, with plenty of frequent flyer miles to show for it, running fifteenth and last in the Champions Cup (G1) in Japan last December and also finishing fourth behind THUNDER SNOW in the Dubai World Cup (G1) this past March. Finished a distant second to ACCELERATE in this race last year. His best race would make him a legit contender.
#4 FOR THE TOP has run two subpar races in the United States since shipping here from South America. Much improvement is needed.
#5 SEEKING THE SOUL freshens up after a hard fought win over #2 QUIP in the Stephen Foster (G2) on June 15. Classy dude ran second in both the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) last year and the Pegasus Invitational (G1) this year. But note that his best races have come at a mile-and-an-eighth or shorter, which means he needs to prove he can run his ‘A’ race at this 10-furlong distance.
#6 HIGHER POWER switches back to dirt after a pair of turf races. Trainer John Sadler has reported that this colt trains well on dirt, and he has won two races over fast dirt surfaces in his career. That said, the last time he ran on dirt he finished fifth, seven lengths behind the winner in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1). Whether he is classy enough or simply fast enough to win this is the biggest question mark.
#7 TENFOLD was nowhere to be found in the Stephen Foster (G2) when trailing the field for most of the race, which is a cause for concern. However, we know he likes this classic 10 furlong distance as he won the Pimlico Special (G3) two back while earning a career high 96 Beyer Speed Figure in the process. Backers will hope he wakes up on the right side of the stall on Saturday morning.
#8 CAMPAIGN cuts back in distance after a win in the Cougar II Handicap (G3) going a mile-and-a-half. Has no early speed and will need to run past plenty of nice horses at this shorter distance. May be closing ground late… but it might be too late.
#9 MONGOLIAN GROOM most recently finished second in the San Diego Handicap (G2) behind CATALINA CRUISER. Decent horse, but he’ll need to run a career best race to win it.
#10 DRAFT PICK was third in the San Diego Handicap (G2) last time out, finishing only ahead of stablemate CORE BELIEFS in that four-horse field. Tough assignment.
1. #5 SEEKING THE SOUL - Has the best form coming into the race.
2. #2 QUIP - Consistent horse hasn’t run a bad race this year.
3. #3 PAVEL - Fast enough to run well against this group
LONGSHOT VALUE PLAY-#6 HIGHER POWER – Blinkers on two back has added early speed.
I‘ll make a win bet on my top choice and box my top three selections in exactas.
BANKROLL PLAY ($50 Budget)
$20 Win: #4 SEEKING THE SOUL
$5 Exacta Box: #2 QUIP and #3 PAVEL and #5 SEEKING THE SOUL ($30).
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