How to Wager on the Pacific Classic
by SCOTT SHAPIRO
Many have called the 2016 rendition of the Pacific Classic the strongest in the event’s 26-year history and it is arguably the North American race of the year thus far.
A field of nine, including 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome, 3-time Eclipse Award-winning mare Beholder and star Bob Baffert trainee Dortmund are set to break from the gates at 6:15 p.m. (PT).
#1 California Chrome is the 8-5-morning line favorite for the $1 million event run at a mile and a quarter over the Del Mar main track, but the five-year-old son of Lucky Pulpit drew the rail making his potential voyage a bit more challenging. Despite the less than ideal post position Chrome is the one to beat and nearly impossible to toss out in the 10-furlong event.
California Chrome will certainly take beating based on his current form, but perhaps #8 Dortmund is ready to put forth a career best effort on Saturday and “turn the tables” on the Art Sherman runner after a thrilling stretch drive in last month’s San Diego Handicap (G2). He has been training forwardly for the Pacific Classic and has by far the best chance to upset the 2016 Dubai World Cup (G1) winner.
I am confident that either California Chrome or Dortmund will hit the wire first and will build both my horizontal and vertical wagers based on that assessment.
I have the utmost respect for the daughter of Henny Hughes, #7 Beholder, but a couple of things make me apprehensive about her chances to become the first repeat winner since Richard’s Kid in 2009-10.
Firstly, while she has trained forwardly in 2016, she appears to have regressed off her dominating five-year-old campaign. She will need to get back to her powerful score in last year’s Classic if she is to beat this group and I just do not see it.
My other concern with Beholder is her jock Gary Stevens. Stevens is one of the best I have ever seen ride, but is not the same jockey he once was. This race is really shaping up to be a rider’s race and I have concerns whether the Hall of Famer is strong enough at this point in his career to get the job done.
I think Beholder can finish underneath in the exotics, but she is vulnerable in my estimation and I can’t envision her defeating both California Chrome and Dortmund.
Outside the top three betting options, here are two runners I could see finishing amongst the top three:
#2 Hoppertunity has earned nearly $3 million in his career and has hit the board in 15 of 20 lifetime starts. While he has never won at the 10-furlong distance, the Baffert trainee just missed in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) in 2015 and ran a solid third in the Dubai World Cup this spring. He can get the mile and a quarter and reunites with jockey Flavian Prat, who rode him in his two starts prior to a disappointing fourth in the 2016 Gold Cup. Hoppertunity struggles to win races, he but should be able to sit well off what should be a contested pace and can come rolling late for a minor share.
#9 Dalmore, the lone three-year-old in the field, will only carry 118 pounds in the Pacific Classic (6 pounds less than older males). After a slow start to his career, he has moved forward in each of his last three starts and seems to be maturing at the right time. The colt gets the services of one of Southern California’s best riders, Kent Desormeaux, and similar to Hoppertunity, Dalmore is unlikely to win the race but could be passing tired rivals late. I give him a chance to hit the board with further progression for trainer Keith Desormeaux.
I will use Hoppertunity and Dalmore underneath California Chrome and Dortmund in vertical wagers and hope one of them comes running late.
Here is my exotic wagering strategy for the Pacific Classic:
$4 Exacta Wheel: 1, 8 with 2,9 ($16)
$2 Trifecta Wheel: 1,8 with 1,7,8 with 2,9 ($16)
$2 Trifecta Wheel: 1,8 with 2,9 with 1,2,7,8,9 ($24)
$.50 Superfecta Wheel: 1,8 with 1,7,8 with 2,9 with 1,2,4,6,7,8,9 ($16)
$.50 Superfecta Wheel 1,8 with 2,9 with 1,7,8 with 1,2,4,6,7,8,9 ($16)
There are plenty of horizontal wagers that include the Pacific Classic, but I will tread lightly since I prefer the two morning line favorites in the feature race. However, I am a bit intrigued by a few runners in the eighth race, the Del Mar Handicap (G2).
Here are a few daily doubles and Pick 3’s I will play involving the Pacific Classic:
$1 Pick 3: 4,5,6,8 with 3,7,8,11 with 1,8 ($32)
$2 Pick 3: 4,5,6,8 with 3,8,11 with 1,8 ($48)
$10 Daily Double: 3,11 with 1,8 ($40)
Good luck to those playing. Hopefully we get the race many are expecting!
Dortmund working photo courtesy of Cecilia Gustavsson/Horsephotos.com
Hoppertunity (orange silks) & Dalmore (green silks) courtesy of Benoit Photos