Pacific Classic Draw Elicits Different Responses From Trainers

September 1, 2022

DEL MAR, Calif.— The post position draw for Saturday’s G1 TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar was not racked with the same tension you might find at another 1 ¼ mile race run in Louisville on the first Saturday in May. In fact, the only thing you might cut with a knife at Tuesday’s draw was the delicious shrimp appetizer served at the Brigantine Restaurant overlooking the track prior to the event. But that’s not to say everyone was delighted with their post position.

‘I’d have preferred a middle to outside post,” trainer Bob Baffert says about his horse, Country Grammar, who drew post #2. “He runs better when he’s on the outside. Frankie Dettori was inside the whole way and he got to the outside. That’s why he won the Dubai World Cup. If he had been on the outside in Saudi (the Saudi Cup) I think he would have won.

“He’s going to be following the speed,” Baffert added about his perfect scenario for Saturday’s race. “I’m laying just off and swinging out like Laurel River, that kind of trip. If I can get a Laurel River trip, I’ll be happy.”

Laurel River tucked in behind the front runners until he split horses at the top of the lane, hit the front and went on to win by 3 ¾ lengths in last weekend’s G2 Pat O’Brien at Del Mar.

Flightline, the morning line Classic favorite at 1-5, drew post #5. Perfectly fine for trainer John Sadler.

“Good post, I’m very pleased with that,” Sadler says. “We thought most of the posts would have been good because of the relatively small field and he’s tactical, he doesn’t have to have the lead and he doesn’t have to be way back either.”

Sadler says he went in with no preconceptions.

“If you think about what you want you jinx the post,” Sadler says. “So you just let it happen and that’s a good post.”

Sadler’s one who doesn’t see the post position coming into play this Saturday.

“Not too much because you have that good long run,” Sadler believes. “You have about a quarter of a mile run into the first turn so you have time to work out a nice trip.”

On the other hand, trainer John Shirreffs says he thinks the post position is always important, regardless of the size of the field or the distance of the race. His horse, Express Train, drew post #4.

“I think four is great, it’s in the middle of the field,” Shirreffs says. “It’s a good post position.”

Shirreffs says he’s hoping for a lively pace.

“I’d like to see enough speed so he (Express Train) can get to the outside and get clear running room,” Shirreffs says.

Ed Moger, Jr., the trainer of Stilleto Boy, feels the same way.

“I’d like to see a lot of speed,” Moger says. “There will be a lot of speed – the problem is they don’t back up very much. We’ll probably get a stalking trip and hope to have something left for the stretch.”

Stilleto Boy drew post #6 and Moger says their game plan could have used a better post.

“We want to go inside so we got the worst out of that,” Moger says. “I think a lot of trainers would have loved to have the six hole and there’s really no bad post for that race.”

Richard Mandella is sending two horses after Flightline Saturday and he’s happy with their posts. Royal Ship, the winner of the G2 San Diego at Del Mar in July, drew post #3 and Extra Hope landed post #1. He says he’s happy with both draws.

“Mile and a quarter, it doesn’t make much of a difference,” Mandella says.

He says keep an eye on Extra Hope, who is the longest shot in the field at 30-1.

“He likes to take it to him,” Mandella says. “He likes to move along near the front end so he’ll be there.”

Does that mean they plan to go with Flightline should the heavy favorite go to the front in the early stages of the race?

“No, I wouldn’t give that direction,” he says. “We’ll just leave it to Tyler Baze, he knows him pretty well.”

And where would Mandella like to see Royal Ship?

“I’d like to see him flying through the wire at the finish in front.”

The TVG Pacific Classic goes off as the 10th race on the 11-race card Saturday. First post is at 1 p.m. Post time for the Classic is approximately 5:50 p.m.

Here’s the field from the rail with jockeys: Extra Hope (Tyler Baze); Country Grammer (John Velazquez); Royal Ship (Mike Smith); Express Train (Victor Espinoza); Flightline (Flavien Prat), and Stilleto Boy (Juan Hernandez).

DMTC Press Release

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