Former stablemates Game On Dude and Richard’s Kid will square off in Sunday’s $1 million Pacific Classic (G1), the marquee event of the Del Mar summer meeting.
Richard’s Kid was purchased privately this week and moved from the Bob Baffert barn over to trainer Doug O’Neill, who is currently serving a 40-day suspension.
It’s been widely reported that Baffert and his wife Jill had a less than friendly conversation with Mark Verge at the post position draw on Wednesday.
Verge is one of the principal new owners of the seven-year-old, who won the 2009 and 2010 Pacific Classic.
While O’Neill serves his suspension, the horse will run in the name of his top assistant Leandro Mora.
Game On Dude, the 5-2 morning line favorite, is coming off victories in the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) and the Californian (G2) since getting outrun in the Dubai World Cup (G1) in March.
Richard’s Kid (7-2) finished second to Game On Dude in the Hollywood Gold Cup and then won the Cougar (G3) in his last outing going 1 ½ miles over the polytrack at Del Mar.
While much of the focus this week has been on the former stablemates and their connections, there are eight other runners that will line up in Del Mar’s richest race.
Dullahan (5-1) will be taking on older for the first time in his career for trainer Dale Romans. The colt was beaten double digit lengths in both the Belmont (G1) and Haskell Invitational (G1) after a good third in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
The colt has raced on polytrack twice in his career and both trips produced victories in Grade 1 company.
As a juvenile the colt won the Breeders’ Futurity, and this spring he won the Toyota Blue Grass, both of those wins coming at Keeneland.
An intriguing entry in the race is the four-year-old filly Amani (5-1), who will be making her second start since arriving from Argentina where she racked up 10 wins in 11 starts.
In her U.S. debut she rallied to finish third in the Clement Hirsch (G1), which was her first start off an eight month layoff.
Rail Trip (10-1) looks as if he is back on track since returning to the Ron Ellis barn. The gelding comes into the race off a win in the San Diego (G2) over the Del Mar main track.
Completing the field are Where’s Sterling (15-1), Akkadian (20-1), Jaycito (12-1), Suggestive Boy (5-1), and Riveting Reason (30-1).
There is a $570,012 Pick 6 carryover going into Sunday’s card.
Let’s head out to Del Mar for Sunday’s featured race of the day:
Del Mar Race 9 The Pacific Classic G1 (Post time 5:05 PT)
2 Amani 5-1
9 Game On Dude 5-2
5 Dullahan 6-1
3 Richard’s Kid 7-2
Analysis: Amani takes on the boys here and she made a good late run after bobbling at the start to finish third in the Clement Hirsch (G1), beaten 1 3/4 lengths for the top spot. She will appreciate the extra ground here and should be tighter second off the bench and adds lasix to the mix here. She won 10 of her 11 starts in Argentina and fact that Drysdale elects to try her here in this race bodes well she is ready to move forward off her U.S. debut. She should get an honest pace to run at and may end up getting overlooked on the tote here.
Game On Dude is perfect in two starts since returning from Dubai where the gelding as a non-factor over the Tapeta in the Dubai World Cup (G1), checking in a well beaten 12th. He loves the surface at Hollywood Park, but has just one trip over the main track here, landing fourth in this race last year. There are a couple of runners in here that will keep Chantal honest early, but I have to think with losing Richard’s Kid Baffert is going to have this guy at 110% for this race to beat his former runner turned rival. He is the one to beat here but the price may end up on the light side.
Dullahan takes on older here which looks like a tough task. He ran a solid third in the Kentucky Derby (G1), but failed to run back to that effort in his last two starts. Both of his Grade 1 winners have come over the polytrack at Keeneland. He gets a break in the weights, carrying six less than the boys while the filly carries 119. Romans has beat us a few too many times this year in stakes, so we will give him a good look here and may end up a decent price here.
WIN: #2 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 2,9 / 2,3,5,9
TRI: 2,9 / 2,3,5,9 / 1,2,3,5,9
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