It is Pacific Classic Day at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and that means a stakes-laden card headlined by the $500,000 featured event conducted at 10 furlongs over the main track. The summer headliner is the fourth leg of a late Pick 5 sequence that also includes the Del Mar Handicap (G2) and the Del Mar Oaks (G1).

Race 7: Del Mar H.

8-5-morning line favorite #1 United looks like a standout in the $200,000 Del Mar Handicap. The 5-year-old gelding makes his second start of the form cycle after a good-looking win in the Eddie Read (G2) on July 26. The LNJ Foxwoods runner showed more speed than I anticipated in that try last month and took control when asked by jockey Flavien Prat. The added ground, the race under his belt this summer, and the best jockey on the circuit make him a very likely winner in the first race of the sequence.

Race 8:

#6 Extra Hope makes his first start of 2020 after a pair of in the money efforts versus stakes foes to end his 3-year-old campaign. The Jay Em Ess Stable colt holds a class edge over this group of optional claiming foes, but is tough to fully trust off of the nine-month freshening.

#4 Take the One O One is a perfect 2-for-2 over the Del Mar main track and should make the lead under Jose Valdivia Jr. He is worth including, as is longshot #1 Unbroken Star. The Broken Vow gelding was beaten last time out by a pair of his rivals in this high-level optional claiming event, but he should get the right trip under jockey Assael Espinoza.

Race 9: Del Mar Oaks

There looks to be a lot of early zip signed on in this year’s Del Mar Oaks, which could spell doom for 3-1-top choice #10 Laura’s Light. The Gary Barber-owned filly has rattled off two consecutive stakes victories, including a win in the San Clemente (G2) over this course on July 25, but I have my concerns. Not only will the daughter of Constitution have her work cut out for her early with #5 Aqua Seaform Shame, #6 Trickle In and #9 Parkour all likely to show speed from her inside, but I am still not convinced the 9-furlong distance is her best.

I will look try to beat the Peter Miller trainee with a trio of fillies that should be able to take advantage of the probable hot pace. #7 Red Lark has just one victory in 11 career starts, but ran a better than looks third last time out. She should be rolling late, as should European imports #3 Miss Extra and #8 Neige Blanche. They not only bring class from overseas, but attract the two best turf riders in California in Prat and Humberto Rispoli.

Race 10: Pacific Classic (G1)

I have no desire to try to beat even-money favorite #5 Maximum Security in the 2020 Pacific Classic. The 2019 champion 3-year-old had to work hard to get the best of #1 Midcourt in his first try under Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, but should take a step forward in his second start off the layoff. Look for Abel Cedillo to be aggressive from the gate and take it to his rivals from start-to-finish. The son of New Year’s Day may not be as good as he was under the care of Jason Servis, but he is classier and faster than the group he encounters on Saturday.

Race 11:

#7 Shadow Sphinx will be tough to beat if he can replicate his effort at Santa Anita on June 20, but that is a big “if.” The son of Pioneerof the Nile got a perfect trip in his first start off a near 17-month layoff. He has run well over this course, retains the services of Flavian Prat, and has had enough time since the victory in Arcadia to likely avoid regression, but is likely to get overbet in the finale. Therefore, I will use a few others, including #5 Salvator Mundi who was likely best despite finishing second beaten a half-length in his July 31 race over this turf course.

Suggested Wager: (50-cent Pick 5)

  • R7: 1
  • R8: 1+4+6
  • R9: 3+7+8
  • R10: 5
  • R11: 4+5+6+7+10

Ticket Cost: $22.50

Good luck on Pacific Classic Day!