08/22/2013 1:10PM

Del Mar: Pacific Classic principals all have something to prove

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Benoit & Associates
Richard's Kid goes into the Pacific Classic off this victory in the Cougar II, his first win after 10 straight losses.

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DEL MAR, Calif. – It was quiet. Too quiet. The draw for the Pacific Classic, which became the soap-opera story of the summer one year ago, was a far more sedate affair Wednesday night at a local resort, with the two human participants in last year’s steel-cage death match both opting to sit this out.

The horses at the center of attention, though, were back, and while the raw emotions of last year’s pre-race build-up between Game On Dude and Richard’s Kid have evaporated – in part because both were defeated last year by Dullahan – there was some anxiousness when posts were assigned for Sunday’s race, and the draw provided the best unscripted moment of the evening.

[PACIFIC CLASSIC: Get PPs, watch Sunday's Del Mar card live]

Game On Dude’s entry slip was the first pulled for the 13-horse field. When it was subsequently announced that he landed post 11, co-owner Bernie Schiappa let out a loud and emphatic “Yes!” with those nearby stifling giggles. Schiappa’s concern over drawing an inside post was alleviated, as was his pent-up nervousness.

“That was a good draw, a very good draw,” Bob Baffert, who trains Game On Dude, said Thursday morning at Del Mar. “There are so many horses you don’t want to be inside.”

Game On Dude was installed as the 5-2 favorite for the Grade 1, $1 million race by Del Mar linemaker Russell Hudak, who made Dullahan the second choice at 7-2, with Richard’s Kid the co-fourth choice at 8-1.

Those three horses were the first three finishers in last year’s race – Dullahan, Game On Dude, and Richard’s Kid, in that order – but, a year later, each has something to prove.

Dullahan, winless in five starts since that Pacific Classic victory, needs to show he’s as good as he was a year ago. Game On Dude will try to win on Polytrack for the first time. And Richard’s Kid, who won the Pacific Classic in 2009 and 2010, will try at age 8 to become the first three-time winner of this race as well as the oldest.

Richard’s Kid was the focal point a year ago, when his private sale a week before the race rubbed raw emotions between the camps of Baffert, who had been training Richard’s Kid, and Doug O’Neill, who took over as the horse’s trainer. That led to the Battle at Burlap restaurant, where Jill Baffert, Bob’s wife, and Mark Verge, part of the ownership group that had just acquired Richard’s Kid, exchanged unpleasantries.

For nearly a year, that was about the most noise heard when it came to Richard’s Kid. Including last year’s Pacific Classic, Richard’s Kid had lost 10 straight races before a victory last time out in the Grade 3 Cougar II here on July 26. That gave him a record of four wins – two in the Cougar II, two in the Pacific Classic – in seven starts on Del Mar’s Polytrack, a surface over which he has never finished out of the money.

“Obviously, he had been off form, but we dreamt he’d win the Cougar again and be a major part of the Pacific Classic.” O’Neill said Thursday morning. “We like where we’re sitting now.”

The field, from the rail out, is Endorsement, Liaison, Holding Glory, Farraaj, You Know I Know, Richard’s Kid, Kettle Corn, Byrama, Dullahan, Delegation, Game On Dude, Jeranimo, and Blueskiesnrainbows.

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The Pacific Classic is the ninth race on an 11-race card that begins an hour earlier than usual, at 1:05 p.m. Pacific. There are two other stakes, both Grade 2, on the card. The Pat O’Brien, a $250,000 race for sprinters going seven furlongs, drew a field of 13, including Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents. The Del Mar Mile, a $200,000 turf race, has just five runners, with Obviously a heavy favorite. The Del Mar Mile will be run as the fifth race to keep it out of the pick six.

Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Delegation won't stop on the lead , so if he has it .....the rest run for 2nd's!
Kendall Daniels More than 1 year ago
To me, it's clear that this is Dullahan's race to lose. Game on Dude is a sentimental favorite but he'll be compromised by Endorsement and Delegation. Further, Rosario is not that great on front running route horses. Bejarano is the leading jock at Del Mar and will guide Dullahan to victory over one of the other longshot closers in the race. The 2nd and 3rd place finishers may be a huge shock.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
This will be a good race I like kettle corn san diego winner. Game on dude is a good horse but this has never been his course. Blueskies also intriguing. Liasion No Way, Richards kid should run in breeders marathon not g1 mile and quarters. Never understand why Richards doesn't try grass every now and then. Don't believe he would of lost ten in a row.
B More than 1 year ago
Don't know which race I am more excited about. This or the Travers. I've had a pretty bad year though. I should probably tell you who I am rooting for, so you will know who not to bet!
A Yahoo! User More than 1 year ago
Bejarano is going to ride Dullahan & I think he should know a bit how the race is going to play out because he has ridden almost the whole field before. He's ridden Laison, You Know I Know, Richard's Kid, Kettle Corn, Byrama, Game on Dude, Jeranimo, Blueskiesnrainbows. So he should kinda know the horses he's riding against on Sunday. What you guys think?
B More than 1 year ago
I think Dullahan is a pretty average horse when not on this surface. I don't like him and I truly hope he loses, which probably means you should bet your house on him.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Great point on bejarano riding this whole field, dullahan did not do that bad last time Out, such a weird horse to bet.
MD23 More than 1 year ago
I've heard A LOT of people talk about this race like either Game on Dude or Dullahan will win...it's much more wide open then that folks. I expect this to be an interesting and good race.
Lawrence Macselwiney More than 1 year ago
This race is wide open due to the fact you have so many entries. It screams upset. Game on dude will not get an easy lead here. He's going to have to work. These folks didn't enter all these horses to watch a merry-go-round. Call me a fool or call me an idiot. I really don't care, but the I think the filly has a shot here as well as a few others. I don't like Game On Dude for the fact he should get pestered enough to soften him up. Now to find the horse thats sits 4 or 5 back and guns them down. Need some PP's. Great card!
jttf More than 1 year ago
never play horses that grew up on the west coast in these grade 1 ten furlong events.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Even in a 13 horse field, does anyone really believe that Game on Dude will be 5-2. And as thrilled as they are with the 11 post, they can't be that thrilled that Delegation drew directly inside them.
Lawrence Macselwiney More than 1 year ago
more like 9 to 5.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Not in a million years. If he is I'll be shocked.
B More than 1 year ago
I agree. Really hope he finally pulls this off.
Mark Whalen More than 1 year ago
I'm thinking he goes down to 8-5, possibly less.