08/19/2016 3:16PM

Free: How I'll play Pacific Classic Day at Del Mar

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DEL MAR, Calif. – The marquee race of the summer might not be the most attractive race on which to wager. After all, favorites should dominate the $1 million Pacific Classic on Saturday at Del Mar.

California Chrome probably will win at 8-5. He would be the fourth straight winning favorite. Beholder, the 3-1 third choice, could win. She would be the fourth back-to-back Pacific Classic winner. Even front-runner Dortmund, the 5-2 second choice, has a shot to steal it.

If the favorites finish one-two-three, the Pacific Classic trifecta will be among the lowest in the history of the race. In 2004, even-money Pleasantly Perfect, second choice Perfect Drift, and fourth choice Total Impact combined for a $23.60 trifecta payoff.

That could happen again Saturday. That is, unless one of the favorites misfires.

California Chrome could get a bad trip from the rail. Beholder might not be good enough this year at age 6. Dortmund might not stay 1 1/4 miles. Anything can happen.

If one of the favorites misfires, a longshot could slip into the trifecta.

Dalmore is not fast enough. His career-high Beyer Speed Figure is 102, which is at least 10 points lower than what is normally required to win the Pacific Classic. Dalmore, a 3-year-old, has never faced older. He has never run 1 1/4 miles. Dalmore has not started since early July.

It’s easy to critique a 20-1 longshot.

On the other hand, Dalmore has improved through the spring and early summer. Each of his last three starts has been better than the one before. He earned his career-high figure last out. As a developing 3-year-old, his improvement is likely to continue.

The Pacific Classic has been won five times by 3-year-olds – Best Pal in 1991, General Challenge in 1999, Came Home in 2002, Dullahan in 2012, and Shared Belief in 2014. The point is that 3-year-olds have run well against older rivals during the summer at Del Mar.

Dalmore probably will not win. But he could hit the board. He has enough speed to be forwardly placed in a race that might unfold at a tepid pace. Dortmund and California Chrome are the only two front-runners.

Dalmore is drawn outside, in the clear. His trainer, Keith Desormeaux, is very good. His jockey, Kent Desormeaux, is very good. Everyone knows that.

At 20-1 odds, Dalmore could transform an apparently chalky race into something memorable by hitting the board. That is contingent on one of the favorites misfiring, which could happen for any number of reasons.

The exotic-wager strategy below will key Dalmore to finish third or second behind the favorites. A $2 win bet on Dalmore is available as “suicide insurance” in the unlikely event that Dalmore posts an outright upset.

The play

$1 trifecta (cost $6)
California Chrome (1), Beholder (7), Dortmund (8)
with
California Chrome (1), Beholder (7), Dortmund (8)
with
Dalmore (9)

$1 trifecta (cost $2)
California Chrome (1)
with
Beholder (7), Dortmund (8)
with
Dalmore (9)

$2 exacta (cost $2)
California Chrome (1) with Dalmore (9)

$1 exacta (cost $2)
Beholder (7), Dortmund (8) with Dalmore (9)

$2 win Dalmore (cost $2)

Total cost of Pacific Classic wagers: $14.

DEL MAR OAKS, race 6

East Coast-Midwest trainer Bill Mott is 9 for 18 in summer stakes at Del Mar since 1995. Not bad. This year, Mott ships Harmonize for the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks. She might be the best gamble on the card at 9-2.

Harmonize finished a better-than-it-looked fifth in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks last out. She was caught three and four wide start to finish and was unable to make up any ground behind the front-running winner, Catch a Glimpse, who has won eight straight.

Shortening to 1 1/8 miles and facing easier company, Harmonize is poised for an odds-beating effort in the Oaks. She is worth a straight play at 9-2.

DEL MAR HANDICAP, race 8

Metaboss was a good one early on; he won a Grade 3 in the winter of his 3-year-old season before his career stalled. But in his most recent start, his first for trainer Phil D’Amato, Metaboss scored an impressive allowance win that sets him up for the Grade 2, 1 3/8-mile turf marathon.

The D’Amato-trained Big John B won this race in each of the last two years. D’Amato and jockey Rafael Bejarano agree that 1 3/8 miles is within reach for Metaboss. At 4-1 on the morning line, Metaboss is worth a straight play on an outstanding Pacific Classic card.