Del Mar is sure to be packed this Sunday for another sunny edition of Pacific Classic day. Four graded stakes races offer up a total of $1.9 million in purses and “Win and You’re In” berths to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
The Rancho Bernardo Handicap (Gr. III) has a generous $200,000 purse. The race takes on an added importance with a guaranteed spot in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (provided that the horse is nominated) and its importance to the Filly/Mare Sprinter Eclipse Award division. Both the BC race and Eclipse Award are in only their second year of existence. Three fillies are coming from the June 28th A Gleam Handicap (Gr. II) at Hollywood Park - winner Dearest Trickski, runner-up Magnificience, and fifth-place Tiz Elemental. If Lethal Heat starts, it will be her third race since August 8th. The field of ten also has Makor’s Love, Silky Smooth, La Tee, Society Hostess, Spring Awakening, and Highland Torree.
The $300,000 Pat O’Brien (Gr. II) is run at seven furlongs and can offer the winner a guaranteed trip to the six-furlong Breeders’ Cup Sprint (Gr. I). Last year’s BC Sprint and Eclipse Award sprint champion Midnight Lute makes his first race since November 24th, 2007. He recently broke the seven furlong track record in a workout. In Summation, most recently second in the Bing Crosby Hcp. (Gr. I) is a top favorite. Rebellion won the Commonwealth (Gr. II) over the Polytrack at Keeneland, and has successfully shipped west win a win in the Ack Ack Hcp. (Gr. III) at Hollywood Park. Another east coast shipper, Lewis Michael, is making his second start of the year. Hewitts, How’s Your Halo, Hurry Up Austin, Tall Texan, Doppio, Decado, Barbecue Eddie, and Arson Squad round out the field of twelve.
The Del Mar Mile Handicap (Gr. II) contains a $400,000 purse and an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Monzante, Whatsthescript, and Storm Military are coming of first, second, and third place finishes, respectively, in the Eddie Read Hcp. (Gr. I). One Union is coming in off victory in the ungraded Wickerr Hcp. The favorite could be Irish-bred Daytona, despite a disappointing run in his last race. He has won a grade 3, two grade 2’s, and a grade 1 so far in 2008, and this race will be his last before a run at the BC Mile at Santa Anita. The other Del Mar Mile entrants are Porto Santo, Dark Islander, Global Hunter, and Stoneside, and Willow O’ Wisp is on the also-eligible list.
The featured race is the eighteenth running of the $1 million Pacific Classic (Gr. I), at 1 1/4 miles. It is Del Mar’s top race and one of California’s most prestigious. This year marks the second time the race will be run on Polytrack. Defending champion Student Council is back, as well as last year’s second-place finisher Awesome Gem. Morning line favorite Go Between won the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic on Santa Anita’s Cushion Track and ran second in the Santa Anita Handicap (Gr. I) and Hollywood Gold Cup (Gr. I). Mast Track, the winner of the latter race, is expected to be a frontrunner. Well Armed, winner of the San Diego Handicap (Gr. II) is also a speedy horse. The others in the field are Surf Cat, Delosvientos, Mostacolli Mort, Zappa, Barcola, and the eight-year-old McCann’s Mojave.
All four races will be broadcast live on ESPN2 starting at 5 p.m. PST, and on TVG.