2021 TVG Pacific Classic (G1) Preview
Venue: Del Mar Race Track, Del Mar, CA (Race 10)
Date: Saturday, August 21st, 2021
Time: 6:30 PT, 9:30 ET
#1 Tripoli (5-1), trained by John Sadler and ridden by Tiago Pereira
Was a close (1/2 length) second in the San Diego Handicap behind today's ML favorite Express Train. Tripoli has never won a graded stakes, something most of these rivals have accomplished. The 4-Year old Colt by Kitten's Joy has finished in the money in nine of 13 career starts (3-3-3), but has earned only $211,960. He's fast, but unproven at this 1 1/4 mile distance. He's local and his works have been "off the charts" at Del Mar leading up to this race. The inside post has no factor in this type of race. Toss.
#2 Tizamagician (5-1), trained by Richard Mandella and ridden by Flavien Prat
Tizamagician is probably in the best form of all the local horses having three wins and two seconds from six starts 2021. All five were graded races including the G3 Cougar ll stakes at Del Mar on July 18th. That race was at the marathon distance of 1 1/2 miles. As was the Toyko City Cup where Tizamagician won in dominating fashion. Overall, Tiz has finished first or second in 12 of 18 (5-7-0) career starts with earnings of $427,851. He can run all day and his last four workouts at Del Mar were done with ease. His August 14th 5f work of 1:00.00 was ranked 8/82 horses. This horses has never been training better according to Hall of Fame trainer, Richard Mandella. Tiz's speed figures fit with this group and should be on or near the lead with a clean start. Horse for course. Contender.
#3 Dr. Post (4-1), trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Joel Rosario
Dr. Post was the surprise runner-up in 2020 Belmont Stakes and has two wins in his 4-year old season. He also had a lackluster effort in the Met Mile. He's shipping in from the East Coast which is a concern. He'll likely get some support at the window. Dr. Post has finished in the money in six of nine (4-1-1) career starts with earnings of $700,635. No local workouts and the 4-year Colt by Quality Road has not won back-to-back races since his first two starts of his career. Todd Pletcher wins 22% in stakes races. Contender.
#4 Royal Ship (7/2) trained by Richard Mandella and ridden by Mike Smith
The other runner for Hall of Fame trainer Mandella. Royal Ship finished third in the San Diego Handicap behind Tripoli and winner Express Train. Royal Ship is the only horse to beat Country Grammar this year. He did so in the Grade ll California Stakes at Santa Anita in April. Country Grammar is OUT with an ankle injury, but was considered to be a top older horse in the nation. Royal Ship has finished in the money in 11 of 14 (6-2-3) career starts with earrings of $293,305. The works are fast in the morning, but there's concern Royal Ship doesn't like the Del Mar surface. He's never run 1 1/4 miles at Del Mar and he's never finished better than third were the turf meets the surf. Contender.
#5 Express Train (3/1), trained by John Shirreffs and ridden by Juan Hernandez
The logical favorite and for good reason. Has three wins at Del Mar, including last month's Grade 2 San Diego Handicap where he defeated four of these rivals. (Tripoli, Royal Ship, Magic On Tap, Sheriff Brown). Express Train has finished in the money in 10 of 12 (4-4-2) carer starts with earnings of $659,300. The 4-year Colt by Union Rags has never won back-to-back races. A really talented horse. With a clean start, he seems dangerous. Contender.
#6 Magic On Tap (20/1), trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Abel Cedillo
Wow! A Bob Baffert horse with a morning line of 20/1 in a graded stakes race. What's up? He won the Triple Bend Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita back in May, producing a low equibase speed figure of 89 for a graded stakes race. Followed that by finishing 5th in the San Diego Handicap (G2) with a better speed figure of 96. The 5-year old son by Tapit has finished first or second in 5 of 7 (3-2-0) career starts with earnings of $233,800. He's lightly raced as a 5-year old and the pedigree suggests he will love the 1 1/4 mile distance. Baffert works his horses very fast and I think this horse is spent. Tough to back although I do love the jockey/trainer combo. Toss.
#7 Independence Hall (5/1) trained by M. McCarthy and ridden by F. Geroux
The third and final horse with a ML of 5/1. Has not won this year going 0-0-2. Has finished in the money in 7 of 10 (4-1-2) career starts with earnings of $654,400. Been nearly two years since the 4-year Colt by Constitution has won a graded race. None of the horses he's beaten has come back to win any significant race. I'm taking a hard stand against this horse. His speed figures just don't measure up to some of these individuals. Toss.
#8 Sheriff Brown (30/1) trained by T. Fincher and ridden by E. Maldonado
Has hit the board in 14 of 21 (6-5-3) career starts with earnings of $232,811. The 5-year old son of Curlin won three straight Allowance Optional Claiming races before finishing 5th and 7th respectively in graded action. Very low speed figures. This horse has no business being in this race. Crazy things can happen. Like when Dare and Go defeated Cigar at 39/1 to win the Pacific Classic back in 1996. No way! Toss.
#9 Cupid's Claws (15/1) trained by C. Dollase and ridden by U. Rispoli
Was a well-beaten second to Tizamagician in the Grade 3 Cougar ll Stakes on July 18th at Del Mar. The veteran of six years has finished in the money in 11 of 22 (4-4-3) career starts with earnings of $216,940. He defeated Tizamagician in the Tokyo City Cup (G3) last September. Cupid's Claws posted a very slow 100 equibase speed figure and hasn't won since. Ironically, Tiz got his payback by winning the Tokyo City Cup this past April. Cupid's Claws can handle the distance for sure and has been training great. Toss.
Play: #2 Tizamagician to Win, Place, and Show. Mandella/Prat combo winning 37% over the past 60 weeks.
Place: # 5 Express Train
Show: #3 Dr. Post
Jeff Hochman of JH-Sportsline