As usual we have some great racing today but there is no doubt that the cream of the crop is at Del Mar, which has a great card, culminating in two grade 1s in the form of the Del Mar Oaks and the $1m Pacific Classic.
We start with the Del Mar Oaks and 11 three year old fillies face the starter for this $300,000 grade 1 over a mile and an eighth of the turf course. In an open looking contest, marginal Morning Line favouritism goes to Mokat at 7/2. Mokat does look the part now she is racing on turf having been highly tried on the dirt. She also looks to appreciate the significant gaps between races that trainer Richard Galtas is giving her at present. Her easy win in the San Clemente represents good form in the context of this race.
Of the contenders, Harmonize looks interesting. She has been running well at the highest level but has struggled against the mighty Catch A Glimpse. She faces nothing of that calibre today.
We have 12 runners for the Del Mar Handicap, a grade 2 affair for 3 year olds and up over a mile and three eighths of the turf track. The winner also gets the bonus of a free entry into the Breeders’ Cup Turf. This looks a classy affair with every horse having recorded a Beyer of at least 90 last time out.
It’s another open looking race with 3/1 Morning Line favoritism going to Asleyluvssugar. He has been running consistently well this year without winning, recording Beyers of 100+ in each race.
I like the look of Flamboyant, who has really found his form this year after a disappointing 2015. He was actually beaten by Ashleyluvssugar last time out in the Eddie Read but he finished fast and late that day and should really appreciate the extra furlong today.
And so to the big one, the Pacific Classic Stakes is a grade 1 for 3 year olds and up over a mile and a quarter and worth $1m. In addition to a magnificent prize of $600,000, the winner gets a free entry to the Breeders’ Cup Classic. What a star-studded cast we have for this race and connections of the contenders are to be congratulated for not shying away from such hot competition. The runners have amassed 19 grade 1 races between them as well as many awards.
Top of the shop is, of course, California Chrome, winner of the Dubai World Cup. He came back after a 4 month lay-off to win the San Diego Handicap, wearing down Dortmund in the stretch run. There is every likelihood he will come on from that run, which will naturally make him very hard to beat. The one concern is the rail draw, which will not assist CC’s style of running.
California Chrome is a worthy favourite but too short for my liking so I will sit this race out. This is a great race so, please, make sure you watch it tonight. Post time is 9.15 pm Eastern Time.
Finally we head to Saratoga for their Alabama Stakes, a $600,000 grade 1 for 3 year old fillies over a mile and a quarter. Considering the mighty Songbird has been entered for the race, we have a very decent field including Family Tree (winner of the Iowa and Indiana Oaks), Dark Nile (unbeaten in races over 2 bends) and Go Maggie Go (winner of the Gulfstream Oaks, which has produced the winners of the Test and Mother Goose Stakes). Having said that, this is Songbird’s race to lose.