The owner-trainer combination of Hronis Racing and John Sadler, who campaigned 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Accelerate, have another contender for this year’s $6 million race with the 4-year-old Higher Power, who surged away from nine rivals leaving the backstretch in Saturday’s 1 ¼-mile, $1 million TVG Classic at Del Mar and came home a widening 5 ¼- length winner. Ridden by Flavian Prat, Higher Power’s victory earned him an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Classic through Breeders’ Cup Challenge series.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of 86 stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held on Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
As part of the benefits of the Challenge series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the $150,000 entry fee for Higher Power to start in the 1 ¼-mile Classic. Breeders’ Cup will also provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America, and a $10,000 travel allowance for all domestic horses based outside of California to compete in the World Championships.
Check USRacing for the latest Breeders’ Cup Classic betting odds.
Higher Power joins Shegeio Takeda’s 5-year-old Inti (JPN), winner of the February Stakes (G1) at Tokyo Racecourse on Feb. 17; Charles Fipke’s 6-year-old Seeking the Soul, who won the Stephen Foster Handicap (G2) at Churchill Downs on June 15; Gary and Mary West’s Maximum Security, winner of the TVG.com Haskell Invitational (G1) on July 20 and Mike Pegram Karl Watson and Paul Weitman’s 4-year-old McKinzie, who won the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 3 as the first five horses to qualify for the Classic the year.
Higher Power ($21.20) covered the 1 1 /4 miles in 2:02.43 over a fast track. Draft Pick, a 13-1 outsider, outfinished 18-1 longshot Mongolian Groom by a neck for second money, with Tenfold fourth. Seeking the Soul, the 2-1 favorite, was a disappointing seventh.
2019 Pacific Classic Replay
A bay son of Medaglia d’Oro out of the Seattle Slew mare Alternate, Higher Power won his fifth race in 13 starts today, and his first graded stake. He came into the Pacific Classic off two starts on turf, a one-mile optional claiming win at Santa Anita on June 14, followed by a second-place finish in the one-mile Wickerr Stakes at Del Mar on July 19.
“There were no special instructions, just to make him comfortable,” said Prat, who rode Higher Power for the first time today. “We were in a good spot all the way around. At the three-eighths (pole) I asked, and he took up the bit and went from there. He was traveling well all the way around. He had been training so well, I thought he’d have a good one in him today.”
“The second time is just as sweet,” said Sadler who saddled Accelerate to win last year’s Pacific Classic. “It developed pretty much the way we thought. We thought there would be some speed on the inside and the plan was to stalk. It came out the way we thought it would.”
Regarding Higher Power’s ability to flourish at the 10-furlong distance, Sadler added “ He’s got his stallion’s (Medaglia d’Oro) pedigree.”