Magic Man’s Race of the Week: The Pacific Classic

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Through two race previews on CCS, I have picked both winning horses but the dog-gone exacta box has proven tricky for me thus far.

This week the Magic Man takes you out west to beautiful Delmar Race Course in sunny southern California for their centerpiece race of the meet, the Pacific Classic.

A very interesting subplot: Will Arrogate rebound here or did the San Diego flop portend a decline in his form? The field assembled is an interesting blend including some who figure to make noise.

Below is my horse by horse look at the Pacific Classic and while I look for my third consecutive winner pick, I need to get this exacta right. That is what I demand so without further adieu here we go.

RACE 8 $1 Million TVG Pacific Classic S. (Grade I) POST TIME – 5:30 PM




$1 Exacta / $2 Quinella / 50 Cent Trifecta / $2 Rolling Double $1 Rolling Pick Three $1 Superfecta (10-cent min.) / 50 cent Pick Four


Purse $1,000,000. For Three-Year-Olds And Upward. One And One Fourth Miles.

PP Horse  Virtual
A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Royal Albert Hall (GB) [ ] 5/G L C S Nakatani 124 K Mulhall 30/1
2 Collected (KY) [ ] 4/C L M Garcia 124 B Baffert 5/2
3 Accelerate (KY) [ ] 4/C L V Espinoza 124 J W Sadler 3/1
4 Sorry Erik (KY) [ ] 3/C L K J Desormeaux 118 J K Desormeaux 30/1
5 Hard Aces (KY) [ ] 7/H L S Gonzalez 124 J W Sadler 20/1
6 Donworth (KY) [ ] 5/H L M Gutierrez 124 D F O’Neill 15/1
7 Curlin Road (KY) [ ] 4/G L F Prat 124 D F O’Neill 20/1
8 Arrogate (KY) [ ] 4/C L M E Smith 124 B Baffert 1/1

Owners: 1 – Tachycardia Stables or Twilight Racing, LLC ; 2 – Speedway Stable, LLC ; 3 – Hronis Racing, LLC ; 4 – Big Chief Racing, LLC ; 5 – Hronis Racing, LLC ; 6 – Reddam Racing, LLC ; 7 – R3 Racing LLC, Calara Farms or ERJ Racing, LLC ; 8 – Juddmonte Farms

Breeders: 1 – Old Mill Stud & S. Williams & J. Parry; 2 – Runnymede Farm Inc. & Peter J. Callahan; 3 – Mike Abraham; 4 – Erv Woolsey & Ralph Kinder; 5 – Dreamchaser Thorobreds; 6 – K.C. Garrett Farm LLC; 7 – Mineola Farm II, James W. Hirschmann &Silent Groves Farm, LLC; 8 – Clearsky Farms

Pedigrees (Sire – Dam, by Dam Sire): 1 – Royal Applause (GB) – Victoria Sponge (IRE) , by Marju (IRE) ; 2 – City Zip – Helena Bay (GB) , byJohannesburg ; 3 – Lookin At Lucky – Issues , by Awesome Again ; 4 – Wilburn – Tiz the Day , by Tiznow ; 5 – Hard Spun – All in With Aces , by Quiet American ; 6 – Tiznow – Temple Street , by Street Cry (IRE) ; 7 – Curlin – Spread , by Coronado’s Quest ; 8 – Unbridled’s Song – Bubbler , by Distorted Humor ;


1-Royal Albert Hall ran fourth in a turf claimer, got claimed and is suddenly in the Pacific Classic in his next start. What are these connections thinking? I cannot envision a scenario in which this one impacts so let us toss him aside and move on.

2-Collected should be part of a potential lively pace and he is absolutely in great form. His last out in the Precisionist in June he earned a very high speed figure and I like the spacing here. He has not lost this year and if he can withstand any pace pressure he surely has a good chance. If you think Arrogate is on the decline this guy has a big chance here.

3-Accelerate owns two wins over the early race favorite Arrogate yet most will dismiss him despite that. There is cause for pause because he will also contest the early fractions. I know that he will not have things his own way as he did in the San Diego but that said he will eventually be tough to throw out because he has only one off the board finish in his career. He figures somewhere in the mix for me and I am inclined to use him.

4-Sorry Erik is he only 3 year old in this field and though he ran behind Irap and Girvin in the Ohio Derby I find it hard to think he can win this contest. At the very most he can clunk around for the bottom of superfectas.

5-Hard Aces poses a dilemma. As consistent as this one has been throughout his career with 25 board finishes in 42 starts, he struggles against this kind of competition. His trainer also has Collected, the one who has the better chance here. But suppose the pace is ridiculous. Could he surprise? He will sit back and come running late. If Arrogate is on the decline why can’t he pull what figures to be a shocking upset? The form says no but the pace flow might provide a different answer.

6-Donworth ran a very distant second behind Accelerate in the San Diego in his last out. His connections are dangerous and like Hard Aces if the expected pace duel materializes then perhaps he can also be heard from late in the race. Is he good enough to win? Well, he did finish in front of Arrogate as mentioned in the San Diego so he at least has that in his corner.

7-Curlin Road has gotten better after an inauspicious start to his career as it took 12 starts to break his maiden. Yet I find it hard to believe he can be competitive against these types. I am going to toss him out with conviction.

8-Arrogate is the big story here. So can someone explain his San Diego flop? He was never involved in that race but consider this. It was his first out since his sensational triumph over Gun Runner in the Dubai World Cup and his training was not really something you wanted to see heading into the San Diego. I cannot say the same for his preparations for this race as he really has looked sharper heading into this race. It’s pretty simple. If Arrogate rediscovers his form prior to the San Diego, the field is running for second. If not then we could have a potential titanic payoff. With how Gun Runner looked in the Whitney, the discussion for Horse of the Year absolutely opens up if Arrogate falters here.

My Selections

1-Arrogate-Inclined to believe that he bounces back here when you consider the pace scenario figures to help him immensely. Also except for Sorry Erik the rest of the field carries equal weights so there really is no excuses for this guy here.

2-Hard Aces-I know on form against top flight competition this guy has had his problems but man I just cannot get away from him for the exotics. If he runs 2nd that makes this exacta pay somewhat decent and I will include him in my box.

3-Collected-Going to have to withstand a lot of pace pressure and somehow hang on. I know he has had a superlative campaign thus far but this easily is his toughest out of 2017. I still think he at least hangs in for a piece of this

4-Donworth-Another big priced late runner who like some others will benefit from a hot pace and I feel like he can at least get into the discussion for exotics players and I will also use him in my gimmicks.

There is my look at the Pacific Classic and hopefully when it is all said and done the Magic Man walks away with his third consecutive winning selection at the least. Arrogate will be a short price like Gun Runner was in the Whitney when I picked him to win but this is about win picks. I want to stay perfect in that respect. Now as far as the exacta, let’s just say I am due to hit so hopefully I nail this one.

I will be back with you next week for another edition of the Magic Man’s Race of the Week so until then may your winners be plentiful and your wallets be fat.

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George Pepis

Horse Racing Analyst

George Pepis provides racing analysis during each Fair Grounds racing season. He also shares commentary and selections for major stakes events and prep races around the country. In the past, George has hosted sports talk programming on WGSO 990am in New Orleans. He has served as both play-by-play and color analyst on Louisiana high school football radio and internet broadcasts.

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