Raising the Stakes with SIG – TVG Pacific Classic Picks and Analysis
The biggest race of the weekend will take place at Del Mar on Saturday afternoon when one of the most successful mares in years will take on the boys in the TVG Pacific Classic.
The highlight of the Saturday card at Del Mar is the $1 Million TVG Pacific Classic (Gr. 1) with a post time of 6:10pm PST. This race is for Three-Year-Olds and upward who are out to battle for a $1,000,000 purse. Beholder, a multiple graded stakes winner mare out of Henny Hughes and Leslie’s Lady, has 18 starts on her career with 13 wins and 3 second place finishes. In her last nine races she has eight wins and is the Morning Line (ML) favorite at 5/2, but today she steps up in company to do battle with the boys. The ageless veteran, Gary Stevens, will ride Beholder who should face her toughest competition in the Bob Baffert trainees Bayern and Hoppertunity. Beholder will also face tough competition from Hard Aces who is coming off a win in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita back on June 27th.
Both Baffert trainees have been working well in the mornings. Bayern looked downright unwilling to race in his first two starts since returning from a quarter crack, but he managed to hang on for third in last month’s San Diego Handicap (Gr. 2) over this same Del Mar surface and Rafael Bejarano will be in the irons. If Bayern decides not to run on Saturday Baffert has another strong runner in Hoppertunity and his jockey, Martin Garcia. Hoppertunity, a multiple graded stakes winner, always seem to find a way to be in the mix and should also be looking to hit the board on Saturday.
Hard Aces, who came from last to get his first graded stakes win in the Gold Cup will again be ridden by Victor Espinoza. In the Gold Cup victory, Hard Aces saved ground and was able to rundown Hoppertunity in the stretch. Although his recent morning works are a little slower than his competition, his handlers have been increasing the distance while pointing him to this race.
If you are looking for a longer shot, consider Catch a Flight. This Richard Mandella trainee will have Flavien Pratt in the saddle who is one of the hottest jockeys at Del Mar. Catch a Flight (9/2 ML) is coming off a win in the San Diego Handicap over this same track and will not attract as much action at the windows as the aforementioned contenders.
If Beholder runs her best race here it could make for a very interesting stretch run as they battle for a very nice purse. With so many contenders this should be an excellent race to wager on and there should be money to be made in the Exacta, Trifecta and Superfecta pools.
Let’s go cash some tickets!