Updated on 09/16/2011 9:06AM

Brewing up a Classic?


DEL MAR, Calif. - Milwaukee Brew is a millionaire with something to prove in Sunday's $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

A 5-year-old with two major stakes wins in Southern California this year ? the Santa Anita Handicap and Californian Stakes ? Milwaukee Brew is seeking to restore his reputation after a third-place finish in the Hollywood Gold Cup on July 14.

Even his trainer, Bobby Frankel, said he must see more from Milwaukee Brew to rank him among the nation's best. "I think the horses on the East Coast are better, not including War Emblem," Frankel said earlier this week.

A victory in the Gold Cup would have moved Milwaukee Brew into the same company as Street Cry, Lido Palace, and Macho Uno. Those three lost in their last start, the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 3, to Left Bank, who is sidelined for the rest of the year after undergoing emergency colic surgery on Aug. 10.

All of that makes a successful start in the Pacific Classic important for Milwaukee Brew, who is in the midst of his best year.

Owned by Frank Stronach, Milwaukee Brew has won 6 of 17 starts and $1,536,612. Before joining Frankel's stable late last year, his best result was a win in the 2000 Ohio Derby at Thistledown. Since joining Frankel's stable, he has has won 2 of 4 starts and earned $990,000.

Stable history is on the side of Milwaukee Brew. Frankel has won six of the 11 runnings of the Pacific Classic, including the last two with Skimming, who has since been retired. Skimming was a front-runner, whose speed made it difficult for rivals to challenge him early.

Milwaukee Brew, on the other hand, is a closer who needs a quick pace to set up his rally. That concerns jockey Kent Desormeaux, who knows that recent runnings of the Pacific Classic, contested over 1 1/4 miles, have played favorably to horses close to the pace. There is only 919 feet from the last turn to the finish compared with 1,321 feet at Hollywood Park.

"Truth be known, it's a track that caters to speed very well because of the short run to the wire," Desormeaux said.

The third-place finish in the Hollywood Gold Cup still irks Desormeaux. Milwaukee Brew trailed by as many as 11 lengths on the backstretch and closely steadily to lose by three lengths. "We had a concrete plan going into the Hollywood Park race," Desormeaux said. "We'll do as Bobby has planned for this one. You live and learn."

Publicly, Frankel says he will have no instructions for Desormeaux.

"I'm going to let him figure it out himself," he said. "I'm sure he won't do the same thing twice."

Despite the short stretch, the race could unfold in favor of Milwaukee Brew.

A quick pace from Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem, Bosque Redondo ? an entrymate and rabbit for Came Home ? and Sky Jack, who led throughout the Hollywood Gold Cup, would help Milwaukee Brew.

"It's a matter of ascertaining the pace," Desormeaux said.

Still, Frankel said he has approached previous runnings of the Pacific Classic with more confidence.

"It's the toughest Pacific Classic because going [into previous years] I thought I had better chances than I do this time," Frankel said. "But you didn't have some real good 3-year-olds like you do this time. They usually don't show up in a Pacific Classic. I would rate this as probably the toughest Pacific Classic, but not the toughest race in the country this year."

Interestingly, none of Frankel's six winners have been favored. Last year, Skimming and Futural were both 8-5, but Futural attracted more dollars in the win pool.

Milwaukee Brew is likely to be the second or third betting choice behind War Emblem.

Desormeaux cannot wait to atone for the loss in the Gold Cup.

"I have so much confidence I should be concerned that I'm overconfident," Desormeaux said. "I'm really looking forward to righting the ship."

for entries.

Subscribers: to purchase Del Mar past performances.

Non-subscribers: to purchase Del Mar past performances.