Pacific Classic Day Winners Return Fine, Look to the Future

September 3, 2023

Arabian Knight and Flavien Prat make their way to the winner’s circle (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Del Mar Stable Notes by Jim Charvat

DEL MAR, Calif.— No rest for the winning trainers on Sunday. They were all back to work following a memorable day on Saturday. Three conditioners divided-up the five graded stakes races on Pacific Classic Day. Bob Baffert and Phil D’Amato won two each and Doug O’Neill grabbed the other one. It should come as no surprise to anyone that the three winning trainers top the trainer standings at Del Mar heading into Sunday’s racing.

Bob Baffert was back in the grandstand Sunday morning watching some of his horses work. Back at the barn, his Pacific Classic winner, Arabian Knight was resting up from his race; Baffert indicating the son of Uncle Mo came out of the race fine.

“That was a good race for him,” Baffert says. “He ran hard.”

Arabian Knight punched his ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Classic with his wire-to-wire win Saturday and time will tell as to whether or not he’ll run in a prep before the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita in November.

“We don’t know what we’re going to do there yet,” Baffert says. “We’ll give him a couple weeks.”

Same could be said for his rival Geaux Rocket Ride, who made Arabian Knight work every step of the race, coming up a neck short. It was a winning effort and for that he got to sleep in.

O’Neill’s Ceiling Crusher crushes her competition in the Torrey Pines (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

“We haven’t had him out of bed yet,” trainer Richard Mandella said Sunday morning, “but he looked good last night. I think he’ll be all right.”

The son of Candy Ride has already punched his ticket to the Breeders’ Cup with his win over Arabian Knight in the G1 Haskell at Monmouth Park in July.

The third-place finisher in the Pacific Classic also came out of his race in good order. Trainer Doug O’Neill says Slow Down Andy will be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup, but he did not mention a prep race for the son of Nyquist.

O’Neill’s assistant, Leandro Mora, was very proud of ‘Andy’.

“He just needs a little change in luck,” Mora says with a smile. “We need Baffert to go somewhere else. He sure can do those big races.”

O’Neill’s graded stakes winner Saturday was Ceiling Crusher, who won the G3 Torrey Pines in front-running fashion. She came out of the race well and future plans are pending. The Cal-bred, who has won five of her six career starts, is not Breeders’ Cup nominated.

D’Amato’s Motorious motors home in the Green Flash (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Phil D’Amato’s pair of stakes winners, Motorious in the G3 Green Flash and Gold Phoenix in the G2 Del Mar Handicap, both came out of their respective races in good shape. Both won trips to the Breeders’ Cup. Motorious has a date in the Turf Sprint, while Gold Phoenix is headed to the Turf.

Baffert’s other winner on Saturday, Du Jour, won the G2 Del Mar Mile which is not a ‘Win and You’re In’ for the Breeders’ Cup. Baffert did not mention any future plans for the son of Temple City.

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