Published Monday, August 7th, 2023   ( 10 months ago )

Pacific Classic Countdown Begins

Stilleto Boy | Benoit Photo

Stilleto Boy © Benoti Photo

Start the clock. The countdown has begun for the 33rd running of the $1 million, G1 FanDuel Racing Pacific Classic, now less than a month away. Del Mar’s marquee race of the summer meet is part of a stakes-filled card on Saturday, September 2. The mile and a quarter test is a ‘Win and You’re In’ challenge race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic to be held at Santa Anita on November 4.

The handicap division has been wide open this year, especially on the West Coast where two of the three major races in the division were run earlier this year with two different winners: Stilleto Boy in the Santa Anita Handicap and Defunded in the Hollywood Gold Cup. Both are being pointed to the Pacific Classic.

Also mentioned as possible participants in the race are Geaux Rocket Ride from the Richard Mandella barn, Bob Baffert’s Arabian Knight, as well as Senor Buscador, winner of the G2 San Diego, the local prep for the Classic, who races out of the barn of Todd Fincher. Also, trainer Kenny McPeek has indicated he may bring his colt Rattle N Roll to the dance.

Here’s a closer look at the six possible runners in the 2023 Pacific Classic:

Stilleto Boy has run twice since his Big Cap win. He finished third in the Oaklawn Handicap at Oaklawn Park in April and sixth in the G1 Stephen Foster at Ellis Park. Trainer Ed Moger, Jr. brought the son of Shackleford back to the West Coast and has worked him three times at Del Mar, the most recent a five furlong breeze in 1:02.20 on Saturday.

Geaux Rocket Ride is fresh off his breakthrough race, a strong victory in the G1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park July 22. Trainer Richard Mandella has worked the son of Candy Ride once at Del Mar since his cross country trip. He went 4-furlongs in :48.40 (20/70) on Friday. Mandella also could run his top 3-year-old in the $125,000 Shared Belief on September 3.

Defunded ran a disappointing fourth in the G2 San Diego last weekend (7-29) and has yet to put in a work since that race. Trainer Bob Baffert said the son of Dialed In came out of the race in good order. Many considered Defunded the best of the West Coast handicap division before the San Diego, a race in which he was the 4-5 favorite.

Arabian Knight also ran in the G1 Haskell and finished third behind Geaux Rocket Ride. It was his first race in nearly six months. The talented 3-year-old has one work since returning from the Jersey Shore, a 4-furlong move in :49.20 on Friday at Del Mar.

Senor Buscador has not worked since his victory last weekend. The day after the race trainer Fincher said his son of Mineshaft was tired but in good order.

Rattle N Roll was runner-up to West Will Power in the G1 Stephen Foster and came into the race riding a three-race win streak, all Grade 3 victories. He has worked twice since running in the Foster: four furlongs in :48.66 on July 29 and another four furlong work in :47.88 on Saturday, both at Saratoga. McPeek says there’s a chance he may stay at the upstate New York track and run the son of Connect in the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 2.