Spot Plays for Pacific Classic Day at Del Mar
Saturday is the biggest card of the Del Mar summer meeting and is anchored by the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1), which will offer a serious clash between the generations over 1 1/4 miles.
Here are several horses of interest in some of the graded stakes:
Del Mar Mile (G2): Race 7 (7:37 p.m. ET)
#8 War At Sea (10-1) has some class to find against this field of grizzled veterans, but I expect the four-year-old to take a step forward in his second start of the year. A stakes winner last season, War At Sea went on an extended spell after finishing a respectable third in the Del Mar Derby (G2) last September.
Needing a race, the War Front colt was entered in a five-furlong allowance on Aug. 4 against some of the best turf sprinters on the grounds. War At Sea only missed by a half-length in a race that was clearly too short for him, but he probably got a lot out of it and remains with upside as he stretches back out to a more suitable distance.
Green Flash H. (G3): Race 9 (8:39 p.m. ET)
Several entrants in this five-furlong dash have never been beaten over the Del Mar turf. Only one, though, has showed up three times and won every single one. That would be #3 Turn On the Jets (6-1), who captured the aforementioned Aug. 4 allowance that included War At Sea. The margin was only a head in a tight finish, but it was only the second outing of the year for Turn On the Jets, who also won his U.S. debut and the Stormy Liberal S. over the course last season.
With several established graded performers in the field, including some stablemates from the Phil D'Amato barn, I'm hoping the ML price holds on this four-year-old gelding.
Pacific Classic (G1): Race 10 (9:13 p.m. ET)
The older male division in Southern California and elsewhere is not especially deep, so the trio of three-year-olds in this test appear strong by comparison. Keep in mind, though, that sophomores have won only five of the 32 runnings of this race.
While there are concerns whether 1 1/4 miles might be a touch too far, the four-year-old #7 Slow Down Andy (8-1) has never run a bad race at Del Mar and is seemingly rounding into his best form in what will be the third race of his cycle. Faring as well as expected in the June 10 Metropolitan H. (G1) off of a very long layoff, Slow Down Andy took a step forward last time in the San Diego H. (G2) while racing in close attendance to a strong pace. If able to settle a bit more, he could be the one to fear most among the older contenders, and at a decent price to boot.
Del Mar H. (G2): Race 11 (9:45 p.m. ET)
We haven't yet been given a glimpse of what #4 Missed the Cut (6-1) is able to do on the turf in this country, but there's a strong chance he'll fit well against this field. Second and seventh in two dirt attempts since his importation, he's proven a more reliable sort over turf.
Winner of a lucrative handicap at the 2022 Royal Ascot meet, Missed the Cut didn't fire in his stakes debut at Deauville next out, though that was over softer ground. In his most recent grass attempt, the Neom Turf Cup (G3) in Saudi Arabia back in February, Missed the Cut ran into one of the world's best performers in Mostahdaf, subsequent winner of the Prince of Wales's (G1) and Juddmonte International (G1). Missed the Cut faces no such horses of that caliber here, and is worth a look at the price.