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Pacific Classic 2017

Pacific Classic 2017

One of the biggest races during the Del Mar summer meet in California, the Pacific Classic boasts of containing the world's current best horse - Arrogate. NBC Sports Network is airing the return of the Breeders' Cup Classic Champion at 8:00pm ET following his uncharacteristic defeat in the San Diego Handicap. The Pacific Classic is a grade I stakes race for 3-year-old horses and up. Run at a distance of 1 1/4 miles on dirt.

Looking for angles on how to bet the race? Then take a look at our FREE Pacific Classic Betting Guide!

There’s only one question leading into the $1 million Pacific Classic

(G1) at Del Mar this weekend: which Arrogate will show up?

Will it be the one that dominated the Travers Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Classic, Pegasus World Cup, and Dubai World Cup, becoming the highest-rated U.S. horse in many years? Or the one that ran a shocking fourth place in the 1 1/16-mile San Diego Handicap (G2) at Del Mar last month, more than 15 lengths behind the winner?

You can come up with any number of reasons why Arrogate failed so badly in the San Diego Handicap.

Undoubtedly Arrogate wasn’t likely to be at his best in his first run in four months, given he had the Pacific Classic and Breeders’ Cup Classic as his major aims. But it wasn’t the defeat that was so concerning as the margin of defeat against horses he should have been much closer to.

Trainer Bob Baffert said after the failure that he may not have trained Arrogate hard enough; a little while later, however, there were thoughts that a 1:11 six-furlong workout at Santa Anita a week before the race may have taken too much out of him.

It’s possible Arrogate may not like Del Mar as much as other tracks he’s raced on; his only other start there was a 1-1/4 length victory over Kristo on Aug. 4 last year, closer than might have been expected given the 13-length lesson he gave the best 3-year-olds in the land in the Travers Stakes three weeks later. But it seems a bit of a stretch to blame Del Mar.

One thing that will help Arrogate in the Pacific Classic is the 1 1/4 mile distance; all his major victories bar the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus World Cup were at that trip. You can’t blame the trip for his San Diego Handicap defeat, but the extra 3/16 of a mile will help him on Saturday.

Ultimately it’s hard to work out why Arrogate ran so badly. The hope is that it was a one-off, rather than a sign of decline. Baffert is happy with his preparation for this race, so it’s best to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Arrogate was a $560,000 purchase for Juddmonte Farms at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale. He is the best progeny to date of the very good sire Unbridled’s Song, himself a winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile; other outstanding runners by his sire include Will Take Charge, Liam’s Map, Zensational, Midshipman, and Forever Unbridled.

He is the first foal of the Distorted Humor mare Bubbler; a stakes-winning, grade 3-placed mare who won six of her nine starts racing at two and three. His third dam is the 1990 champion juvenile filly Meadow Star.

If the real Arrogate shows up, he should be very hard to beat in the Pacific Classic. For racing’s sake, it would be great if he does.

Post Positions for the Del Mar Pacific Classic

Post Position Horse/Jockey Morning Line Odds
1 ROYAL ALBERT HALL (GB)
Corey Nakatani
30-1
2 COLLECTED
Martin Garcia
5/2
3 ACCELERATE
Victor Espinoza
3-1
4 SORRY ERIK
Kent Desormeaux
30-1
5 HARD ACES
Santiago Gonzalez
20-1
6 DONWORTH
Mario Gutierrez
15-1
7 CURLIN ROAD
Flavien Prat
20-1
8 ARROGATE
Mike Smith
Even

 

Pacific Classic Handicapping Thoughts

The $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) is the centerpiece of the Del Mar summer meet and the last three winners – California Chrome, Beholder and Shared Belief – were all champions. Arrogate will bring enormous star power to the starting gate, posting successive Grade 1 wins in the Travers, Breeders’ Cup Classic, Pegasus World Cup and Dubai World Cup, but he will be trying to rebound after having a seven-race win streak come to a sudden end in the San Diego H. (G2) at Del Mar on July 22.

With the Breeders’ Cup Classic being held at Del Mar this fall, the Pacific Classic couldn’t be more critical for Arrogate. He’s fastest member of the eight-horse field, registering BRIS Speed numbers as high as 124, and relishes the 1 ¼-mile distance. But he didn’t narrowly lose the San Diego, coming up completely empty in a well-beaten fourth, and the flat performance has Thoroughbred racing fans questioning whether Arrogate can perform his best at the seaside oval.

We predict Arrogate will get back on track with a victory, but the gray 4-year-old must get past a couple of dangerous rivals.

Accelerate runs his best races at Del Mar, improving to 3-for-3 locally with an 8 ½-length romp in the San Diego. Collected has posted convincing wins in all three starts this season, most recently taking the Precisionist (G3) at Santa Anita by a 14-length margin in late June. Both appear quite capable if Arrogate shows up with another subpar effort.