Fourteen older males and champion 4-year-old filly Unique Bella have been nominated for the 28th running of the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic on Saturday, August 18, as the deadline passed at midnight Thursday.
The connections for all 15, six of which have been cross-entered in other stakes races next weekend, have until Tuesday to decide regarding the 1 ¼-mile signature event of the summer meeting. The field will be finalized at a post position draw party starting at 3:30 that afternoon at the Brigantine restaurant overlooking the track.
In alphabetical order, with owners and trainers in parentheses, the nominees are: Accelerate (Hronis Racing/John Sadler), Ann Arbor Eddie (Reddam Racing/Doug O'Neill), Beach View (Levy Racing/Leonard Powell), Catalina Cruiser (Hronis Racing/John Sadler), Dr. Dorr (Natalie J. Baffert/Bob Baffert), El Huerfano (Barber or Wachtel Stable/Peter Miller), Full of Luck (CTR Stables, West Point Thoroughbreds or Todaro, et al/Jerry Hollendorfer), Mubtaahij (Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum/Bob Baffert), Multiplier (Wachtel Stable, Barber or Kerr/Peter Miller), Pavel (Reddam Racing/Doug O'Neill), Prime Attraction (DP Racing/James Cassidy), Roman Rosso (Zaur Bifov/Bob Baffert), The Lieutenant (Mr. & Mrs. W.K. Warren, Jr.,/Michael McCarthy) Two Thirty Five (Slam Dunk Racing, Mansor, Nielsen et al/Richard Baltas) and Unique Bella (Don Alberto Stable/Jerry Hollendorfer).
With the race just eight days away, several nominees put in their final major works Friday morning.
Track clockers had San Diego Handicap winner Catalina Cruiser covering five furlongs in one minute flat under Juan Leyva, assistant trainer to Sadler, with splits of :24 and :36.60 for the first three-eighths.
“I watched from the front side (grandstand) and I had him going out (six furlongs) in 1:13 and seven-eighths in 1:26,” Sadler said. “Juan said he felt super.
“The Classic isn't the plan for him, but he's there if for any reason we need him. A pretty good back-up.”
Accelerate, the Santa Anita Handicap and Gold Cup at Santa Anita winner who is Sadler's primary Classic hope, will have his final work Sunday morning.
O'Neill-trained Pavel, winner of the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs in June, went six furlongs in 1:13.80 with regular rider Mario Gutierrez aboard.
“He broke behind a workmate, gradually picked him up and galloped out with good energy,” O'Neill said. “He cooled out well and acts ready for a week from tomorrow.”
O'Neill's other Classic nominee, Ann Arbor Eddie – also nominated to the Del Mar Handicap on Pacific Classic Day and the Del Mar Mile on Sunday, August 19 – went five furlongs in 1:02.0.
Baffert's somewhat surprising nominee Roman Rosso – a recently imported Group I winner in South America – was timed in 1:26.00 for seven furlongs under Flavien Prat.
“Went nice,” said Baffert, who texted that the 4-year-old Argentine-bred could go in the Classic or the Harry F. Brubaker on August 22.
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