TVG Pacific Classic Matches
Game On Dude Vs. Shared Belief
Defending champion Game On Dude, a winner of almost $6.5 million in a brilliant career and one of the top handicap horses in America for the past few years, puts his title on the line Sunday versus unbeaten three-year-old sensation Shared Belief and nine other rivals in Del Mar’s signature event of the summer season, the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic.
Special post time Sunday for the first of eleven races will be 1 p.m., an hour earlier than usual.
The 24th running of the Grade I Pacific Classic, carded at the American classic distance of a mile and one-quarter, will be the tenth race on an outstanding program that also includes two Grade II contests, the $250,000 Del Mar Mile on the grass and the $250,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes at seven furlongs on the main track. The Del Mar Mile will be the fifth race, while the O’Brien Stakes will be the ninth event.
Game On Dude, a seven-year-old gelding trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, will have Martin Garcia aboard as he attempts to repeat his success of a year ago when he won the Pacific Classic by 8 ½ lengths in typical wire-to-wire fashion. In six subsequent outings, he has won only once, but it was a second career triumph in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap.
Despite his excellent record, Game On Dude is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line behind 5-2 choice Shared Belief, champion two-year-old of 2013 who is unbeaten and indeed untested. Like his sire, Candy Ride, the 2003 Pacific Classic winner, the speedster enters the Pacific Classic a winner of five races, three as a juvenile, including the Cash Call Futurity, and two this year, including the Los Alamitos Derby most recently. Mike Smith has the call from trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
According to weight-for-age conditions, Game On Dude will pack 124 pounds, six more than Shared Belief, who will be attempting to become the fifth three-year-old in Pacific Classic history to win. Previous sophomore winners were Best Pal, General Challenge, Came Home and Dullahan.
Strong opposition for Game On Dude and Shared Belief includes Majestic Harbor, winner of the Gold Cup at Santa Anita; hard-hitting Clubhouse Ride, a veteran of the stakes wars; Irish Surf, easy winner of the Cougar II Handicap this summer; Imperative, hero of the $1.5 Charles Town Classic, and Eastern invader Frac Daddy.
Completing the field are Argentine-bred Mystery Train, debuting in the United States; You Know I Know, third in the 2013 Pacific Classic; Toast of New York, like Shared Belief a three-year-old and winner of the rich UAE Derby at Meydan in Dubai, and Ice Cream Truck, the likely longest shot in the line-up.
The Pacific Classic is another in a series of Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” qualifying races for the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita wherein the winner is guaranteed an expense paid spot in the starting gate for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic November 1.
Irish-bred Obviously, one of the top grass milers in America, will be seeking his third straight victory in the Del Mar Mile. Regular rider Joe Talamo again has the assignment on the uncommonly swift six-year-old who will pack highweight of 126 pounds versus seven foes, including Tom’s Tribute, victor in the Grade I Eddie Read Stakes this summer. Others in the Del Mar Mile line-up are Tigah, Handsome Mike, Alpha Bullet, Rock Me Baby, Lil Bit O’Fun and He Be Fire N Ice.
Like the Pacific Classic, the seven-furlong Pat O’Brien Stakes is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” qualifier, in this instance for the B.C. Dirt Mile.
Fed Biz, impressive winner of the San Diego Handicap; Big Macher, victor in the Bing Crosby Stakes, and always formidable Goldencents head a field of eight in the O’Brien. Other entrants are Diamond Bachelor, Silentio, Color of Courage, Syndicated and Indexical.