How to Bet the Pacific Classic

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

August 16th, 2018

If you like the chances of #5 Accelerate in Saturday’s $1 million TVG Pacific Classic (gr. I) at Del Mar, I certainly can’t blame you—quite frankly, I like him too.

What’s not to like? The five-year-old son of Lookin at Lucky is 3-for-4 this year and has already scored two dominating wins over the 1 ¼-mile distance of the Pacific Classic, prevailing by 5 ½ lengths in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) and by 4 ¼ lengths in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (gr. I). He’s also won three of his five starts at Del Mar and ran very well when finishing third against a tough field in the 2017 Pacific Classic.

With his terrific current form and eye-catching speed figures (including a 111 BRIS earned in the Gold Cup), Accelerate is an obvious choice to win the Pacific Classic and will be heavily favored to do so. The only concern in my mind is that he hasn’t run in three months, and the last time Accelerate entered a major race off a layoff, he was soundly beaten in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) before rounding back into form with the benefit of more frequent racing.

Therefore, while I strongly respect Accelerate, I do harbor some hope of beating him with a longshot such as #3 Prime Attraction. This versatile son of Unbridled’s Song has run well on turf, but his biggest win to date came in the Native Diver Stakes (gr. III) over the Del Mar dirt last fall, a race in which Prime Attraction tracked the pace before pulling away to win decisively with a 112 BRIS speed figure.

Prime Attraction hasn’t won since then, but he did finish second behind Accelerate in the San Pasqual Stakes (gr. II) during the winter, and he recently returned from a layoff to be beaten just a neck in the Eddie Read Stakes (gr. II) over the Del Mar turf course. The return to dirt should be to his liking, and the distance shouldn’t be an issue considering that he was beaten just a head going 1 ¼ miles in the John Henry Turf Championship (gr. II) on turf last October. At his morning line odds of 8-1, I think Prime Attraction could add a lot of value to the exotics, especially if he manages to post an upset.

#4 Roman Rosso is another intriguing upset candidate. A three-time Group 1 winner in South America, the son of Roman Ruler is set to make his U.S. debut for trainer Bob Baffert and has been breezing steadily at Los Alamitos and Del Mar in preparation for this race. Roman Rosso is a bit of a wildcard—we really don’t know how good he might be—but he’s thoroughly proven going 1 ¼ miles or farther and might outrun his odds.

With a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) on the line, the Pacific Classic promises to be an exciting event. Here’s how I would play the race:

$9 exacta: 5 with 3,4 ($18) $4 exacta: 3,4 with 5 ($8) $2 exacta: 3,4 with 3,4 ($4)

Good luck!