It is being billed as a battle of the sexes between the top ranked older male and female, California Chrome taking on Beholder in the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar on Saturday.
The race is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), which will be contested at Santa Anita on Nov. 5.
California Chrome is the current early favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at odds of +225 at Bet Online. Beholder is listed at +1200 and Dortmund is +600.
Beholder is the defending champion of the Pacific Classic, trouncing males last summer by 8 ¼ lengths and earning a career top Beyer Speed Figure of 114.
Her best number since then in four starts is a 101, earned in her win in the Vanity Mile (G1) on June 4 and in her loss to Stellar Wind in the Clement L. Hirsch (G1) in her last outing, which snapped an eight race winning streak.
The Richard Mandella trainee is the 3-1 third choice on the morning line and will have Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens aboard.
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California Chrome is perfect in four starts this year including winning the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) in March. He returned off a four-month break to outduel Dortmund in the stretch to win the San Diego Handicap (G2) in his last outing.
The 2014 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) champ draws the rail with his regular rider Victor Espinoza in the irons and is the 8-5 morning line favorite.
Despite the billing as “Chrome vs. Beholder” the Bob Baffert trained Dortmund is actually the second choice on the morning line at 5-2. He returned off an 8 ½ month layoff with a solid second in the San Diego. The colt breaks from the eight post with jockey Rafael Bejarano in the irons.
Baffert will also saddle Hoppertunity (8-1) as he seeks his fifth win in the Del Mar’s marquee race. Baffert has won the race with Game On Dude (2013), Richard’s Kid (2009 and 2010) and General Meeting (1999).
The Pacific Classic is the ninth race with a post of 6:15 PT on an outstanding 11-race card. The co-feature is the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap (G2), a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).
Let’s head out to Del Mar for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Del Mar Race 9 The Pacific Classic G1 Post time 6:15 ET
8 Dortmund 5-2
1 California Chrome 8-5
2 Hoppertunity 8-1
7 Beholder 3-1
Dortmund makes his second start off an eight-month layoff and after battling California Chrome in the stretch in the San Diego Handicap (G2), coming up just a half-length short of the top spot. The Bob Baffert trainee earned a career top speed fig in the effort. With Chrome drawing the rail and Beholder unlikely to be sent to the lead after getting beaten last out on the front end, our top pick could be at a slight tactical advantage and is likely going to be a better price as I am guessing Beholder takes some action off her 3-1 morning line. The key could be longshots Hard Aces and Dalmore, who both have some early zip. If they are not sent, out top pick could take this field gate to wire.
California Chrome is perfect in four starts this year and showed no effects off his trip to Dubai with a game win in the San Diego over our top pick. Her was making his first start off a four-month layoff and has worked sharply since that win. He draws the rail and his preferred running style is outside of horses. Espinoza could take back, but if the colt breaks well he could be right up front. His price seems likely to drift down a point or two from his 8-5 morning line which could make him an underlay in this spot.
Hoppertunity is also sent out by Baffert and this guy seems to show up with a good effort just about every start but does not win often. He made a mild late run to finish fourth last out in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1). He was beaten four lengths by California Chrome in the Dubai World Cup (G1) two back. If Chrome is sent from the rail and the longshots are sent, this guy may get a real solid early pace to run at and it could set up nicely for him. Baffert has won this race four times, most recently with Game On Dude in 2013.
Beholder ran huge winning this race last year with a 114 Beyer Speed Figure and she has not come close to running back to that figure in four starts since. She had an eight race winning streak snapped by Stellar Wind last out in the Clement L. Hirsch (G1). She was on the lead that day and she is most effective in a tracking role which should be the case today. She loves the Del Mar surface, a winner of four of six with a couple of seconds. This is a tougher group than she trounced last year and anything less than the 3-1 morning line is just too short.
WIN: Dortmund to win at 5-2 or better.
EXACTA: 1,8 / 1,2,7,8
TRIFECTA: 1,8 / 1,2,7,8 / 1,2,4,7,8
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