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Del Mar notes: Norvsky a possibility for Pacific Classic
By Jay Privman
DEL MAR, Calif. – A little more than a week ago, Buddy Johnston and trainer Don Warren were hoping to shoot for consecutive wins in the Pacific Classic with Acclamation, last year’s champion older horse. He is sidelined, at least temporarily, but on Tuesday morning, both men were at least contemplating running their second-stringer, Norvsky, in the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic on Sunday.
“We’re thinking about it,” said Johnston, who bred Norvsky and is his co-owner. “But we’ll probably run in the mile.”
The Grade 2, $200,000 Del Mar Mile – also on Sunday – had been the intended spot for Norvsky before Acclamation’s injury. It is on turf, whereas the Pacific Classic is on Polytrack. Norvsky comes off a win over Del Mar’s turf course in last month’s California Dreamin’ Handicap. And if Norvsky runs in the Pacific Classic, he would not keep jockey Rafael Bejarano, who will ride Jaycito in that race. Bejarano retains the mount on Norvsky if he goes, as expected, in the Del Mar Mile.
If Norvsky goes in the Pacific Classic, Patrick Valenzuela – Acclamation’s regular rider – would have the mount, Johnston said.
The Pacific Classic offers a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita through the Win and You’re In program.
Jaycito, Rail Trip drill for Pacific Classic
Bejarano was aboard Jaycito on Tuesday morning at Del Mar when he worked five furlongs in 1:01 in his final serious drill for the Pacific Classic. He worked in company and was asked to go out strongly an extra furlong past the wire.
“He worked good,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “He works good over this. He likes it. He trains well over it.”
Jaycito races well over Polytrack, too. Jaycito was the winner of a first-level allowance earlier this meet.
Up at Betfair Hollywood Park, Rail Trip was timed in 1:00.80 for his five-furlong drill under exercise rider Balthazar Contreras.
“Everything went perfect,” said Ron Ellis, who trains Rail Trip. “He was just breezing. We’re ready, or as ready as we’re gonna be.”
Rail Trip comes off a win in the San Diego Handicap on July 28. He was third in the 2009 Pacific Classic to Richard’s Kid, who won the race in 2009 and 2010 and is going for an unprecedented third victory in the Pacific Classic this year.
Dullahan gets feel for track
Dullahan, who will take on elders for the first time in the Pacific Classic, arrived Sunday, jogged Monday, and galloped 1 3/8 miles Tuesday morning under Tammy Fox, the partner of trainer Dale Romans.
“I’m not his regular exercise rider, so I tried to be really quiet on him,” Fox said Tuesday morning. “He seems happy.”
Fox said Dullahan, third in the Kentucky Derby earlier this year, would not have any workouts here.
“Not on purpose, anyway,” she joked.
Dullahan scored his biggest win of the year in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, which also has a Polytrack surface.
“He’ll be on his preferred surface, but he’s going to have to step it up,” Fox said.
Acclamation ‘doing wonderful’
The ankle injury suffered last week by Acclamation appears to be “just a little setback,” Johnston said, leading to hope Acclamation will return to action this fall.
“He’s doing wonderful,” said Johnston, who bred Acclamation and owns him in partnership. “It’s not a career-ending injury, but it might have been had we gone on with him.”
Johnston and Warren said the Grade 1 John Henry Stakes, formerly the Clement Hirsch Stakes, at Santa Anita’s fall meeting would be the soonest Acclamation might race, but cautioned that might be optimistic.
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