Prat, Velazquez Fly in for Pacific Classic Day

September 3, 2022

DEL MAR, Calif.— The quality of the jockey colony at Del Mar will tick-up a notch this weekend with the arrival of two riders flying in to ride on Pacific Classic Day.

Flavien Prat and John Velazquez are no strangers to Del Mar. Prat was a leading rider here for several years before picking up stakes and moving east this spring. Velazquez is a Hall of Fame rider who is an established rider in New York and has ridden in big races on the west coast for years.

Their presence will be felt today. Prat will ride Flightline in the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic. He’s been aboard all four of the Tapit colt’s career starts, including the last one at Belmont Park when they crushed a talented group of runners in the G1 Met Mile.

Prat also will ride Hong Kong Harry for trainer Phil D’Amato in the G2 Del Mar Mile; Dandy Warhol for trainer Mark Glatt in the G2 Caesars Sportsbook Del Mar Derby, and Gold Phoenix for D’Amato again, this time in the Del Mar Handicap. He also has rides in the second, third, sixth and eighth races.

Prat shook up the Del Mar jockey colony prior to this year’s summer meet when he left for the east coast, luring several jockeys to Del Mar in hopes of filling the void left behind by the 2021 summer meet riding champion. Prat had won three straight summer meet riding titles and five of the last six while he rode fulltime on the west coast.

On the other hand, Velazquez has not ridden as extensively at Del Mar as Prat. He tends to do what he’s doing today. Fly in for the big races and then return to his base in New York. There were rumors that Velazquez was ready to move his tack to the west coast prior to the Del Mar summer meet, but those plans fell through. He went on to win his 1,000th victory at Saratoga this summer.

Velazquez will ride Country Grammer for trainer Bob Baffert in the TVG Pacific Classic. He rode the Dubai World Cup winner in the G2 San Diego earlier in the meet and finished second to Royal Ship.

“He liked the horse and wanted to ride him back,” Baffert says. “Frankie Dettori is going to ride him (Country Grammer) in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and he (Velazquez) didn’t have a problem with that.”

Velazquez also will be aboard Armagnac for Baffert in the Shared Belief; Air Force Red in the G2 Del Mar Mile and Dicey Mo Chara in the Del Mar Handicap, both for trainer Leonard Powell. Velazquez has rides in every race but the first and ninth on Pacific Classic Day.

DMTC Press Release

Photo: Flavien Prat (Courtesy of DMTC)

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