Trio of Local Runners Lock In BC Invites 

September 3, 2023

With Geaux Rocket Ride (outside) and Slow Down Andy locked in a duel, Arabian Knight powers to the finish in the Pacific Classic to win by a neck (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Del Mar Stable Notes by Jim Charvat

DEL MAR, Calif.— Three of the races on the rich FanDuel Pacific Classic Day card Saturday provided an extra bonus for the winners in the form of an all-expenses-paid entry into a corresponding Breeders’ Cup race.

The Breeders’ Cup will be held this year on November 3 and 4 at Santa Anita Park. The championship events offer a total of $31 million in purses and awards.

The Grade III Green Flash Handicap was captured by Anthony Fanticola’s Motorious who covered the five furlongs on turf in :56.07. The 5-year-old gelding earned a first prize of $90,000, but also earned himself a guaranteed spot in the starting gate with all fees paid for the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

Gold Phoenix soars home in the Del Mar Handicap (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Little Red Feather Racing, Sterling Stables and Marsha Naify’s Gold Phoenix captured the Grade II Del Mar Handicap, racing a mile and three eighths on the turf in 2:15.34. Another 5-year-old gelding, Gold Phoenix not only picked up first-place prize money of $180,000 but assured himself free admittance to the $4-million Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Finally in the big event of the day, the 3-year-old Arabian Knight hung tough for a neck victory over fellow soph Geaux Rocket Ride in the $1 million, Grade I FanDuel Racing Pacific Classic. The Zendan Racing Stables’ colt secured a spot in the starting gate for the nation’s richest race, the $6-million Breeders’ Cup Classic, after covering a mile and a quarter in 2:03.19 and taking home $600,000 in prize money.

The victory by Arabian Knight over a field of mostly older rivals may fortell a Breeders’ Cup Classic this year dominated by 3-year-olds. Geaux Rocket Ride had punched his ticket to the big one when he triumphed in the “Win and You’re In” Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park in his previous race. Arabian Knight had run third in that test.

Also, the star Eastern colt Arcangelo, winner of the Belmont Stakes and the Travers Stakes in his last two starts, is very likely BC Classic-bound, adding some additional soph spice to the mix. Youth is likely to be high on the card come Breeders’ Cup time in November.

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