Updated on 09/18/2011 12:49AM

Lava Man rolls on in Pacific Classic

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Lava Man wins the Pacific Classic on Sunday at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Lava Man beat up on seven rivals while putting a scare into trainer Doug O'Neill during Sunday's $1 million at Del Mar.

Under jockey Corey Nakatani, Lava Man ($4) fought for the lead throughout and cruised away from the field on the final turn so convincingly that he led by three lengths with a quarter-mile remaining. Lava Man went on to win by 2 1/2 lengths, but he gave O'Neill an anxious moment when Good Reward made a brief move in early stretch.

"When he's run his best race, he's on or near the lead and he gets daylight," O'Neill said. "When he got daylight, I was like, 'Yeah!' Then in midstretch, I thought, 'He moved too early.' "

O'Neill's reaction was wasted energy. Lava Man finished 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.62 to stretch his 2006 unbeaten streak to six. The Pacific Classic was Lava Man's fourth Grade 1 win of the year and solidified his status as a Horse of the Year candidate.

With the victory, Lava Man made California racing history. Owned by Jason Wood and the Kenly family's STD Racing, Lava Man became the first horse to sweep California's three leading races for older horses in the same year - the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap in March, the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup in July, and the Pacific Classic.

The style of the race was similar to Lava Man's win in the Big Cap, with one exception - no one bothered him late.

In the Pacific Classic, Preachinatthebar led by a head over Lava Man through early fractions of 23.28 and 46.79 seconds. Magnum and Super Frolic drew within two lengths on the backstretch, and those four were within a half-length with a half-mile remaining.

The threat to Lava Man was short-lived. Nakatani urged him passing the three-eighths pole and got an immediate response.

"I wanted him to put some distance between us and the field - and he did that," Nakatani said. "After he cleared in the stretch, he just started waiting on them."

Good Reward, the New York shipper and major stakes winner on turf, rallied from fifth on the rail to reach second in the stretch. Good Reward was clear of third-place finisher Super Frolic through the final furlong. Despite O'Neill's worries, Good Reward could not threaten Lava Man.

"At the three-eighths pole, he was where I wanted to be," jockey Garrett Gomez said of Good Reward. "I thought I had a chance. I picked up some ground, but when I moved him out, he flattened out."

Super Frolic finished 1 3/4 lengths in front of Perfect Drift in the field of eight. The disappointment of the race was Giacomo. The 2005 Kentucky Derby winner, Giacomo was sixth for the first mile and made little progress in the stretch, finishing fifth.

"He was too much on the bridle," said jockey Mike Smith. "Usually, I can get him to drop it. If I'd let him, he'd have been up there with the leaders."

Lava Man, 5, earned $600,000. Claimed for $50,000 in August 2004, he has won 13 of 33 starts and $3,504,706. He is expected to start at Santa Anita in early October in a prep to the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.

Pat O'Brien: Siren Lure upsets Declan's Moon

Art Sherman has Declan's Moon's number. For the second straight time, a Sherman trainee upset the 2004 champion 2-year-old male. This time it was with Siren Lure, who won his third straight race, and sixth in his last seven starts, with a prototypical late-running victory in the Grade 2, $298,000 Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Siren Lure ($7.60) benefited from a hot, contested early pace and a desultory effort by favored Declan's Moon, who came off the bridle a half-mile into the seven-furlong race and finished last in the field of seven. Siren Lure rallied wide on the turn, then had to work hard to get past a stubborn Pure as Gold before pulling clear late under jockey Alex Solis to win by 2 1/4 lengths.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman