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Fifteen Nominated to Pacific Classic -- 6 to 8 Likely
Led by 2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic and 2004 Dubai World Cup champion Pleasantly Perfect, a list of 15 nominees has been posted for the 14th edition of the $1-million, Grade I Pacific Classic, Del Mar’s signature event each season.
A field of six to eight is expected for the 1 1/4-mile race to be run Sunday, August 22, according to Del Mar stakes coordinator Zachary Soto.
Besides Pleasantly Perfect, those who have been committed to the race include Choctaw Nation, winner of Del Mar’s San Diego Handicap where he defeated Pleasantly Perfect; During, third-place finisher in the San Diego; Hollywood Gold Cup winner Total Impact; and Colonial Colony, conqueror of Southern Image in the Stephen H. Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs in June.
Considered on the fence for the race are double millionaire Perfect Drift, who finished second in last Saturday’s Whitney Handicap at Saratoga; El Elogiado, whom owners Sid and Jenny Craig and trainer Ron McAnally would hope could duplicate their success last year with Candy Ride; Musique Toujours, Night Patrol and Outta Here.
Considered unlikely to start is multiple-Grade I winner Peace Rules, who finished a well-beaten sixth in the Whitney; Eye of the Tiger, winner of Arlington Park’s Washington Park Handicap July 31; 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide; Olmodavor, runner-up in the Washington Park Handicap; and Verkade, who was second in an allowance race at Del Mar August 5.
Colonial Colony and Perfect Drift are booked on a flight from Louisville on Tuesday, with an afternoon estimated arrival time. Colonial Colony is scheduled to work Monday at Churchill Downs for trainer Walter Bindner, Jr. Perfect Drift’s trainer, Murray Johnson, who years ago trained on the Southern California circuit, has no work planned for his trainee and is still considering his options.
Pleasantly Perfect, Choctaw Nation, During and Total Impact are expected to work once more next week heading into the Pacific Classic.
RE:Fifteen Nominated to Pacific Classic -- 6 to 8 Likely
Pleasantly Perfect drew post position No. 5 and was established as the 6-5 opening-line favorite in a field of eight yesterday for Sunday's 14th running of the $1 million Pacific Classic.
Trained by Richard Mandella and to be ridden by Jerry Bailey, Pleasantly Perfect is the No. 1-ranked thoroughbred in North America based on victories in the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic last October at Santa Anita and the $6 million Dubai World Cup in March in Dubai.
The 6-year-old son of Pleasant Colony had an impressive streak of four wins ended, however, in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 1 by Choctaw Nation, another Pacific Classic entrant and the 9-2 third choice in the morning line.
"I had him (Pleasantly Perfect) too fresh for his last race," Hall of Famer Mandella said last night at the post-position draw, held at The Lodge at Torrey Pines. "Going back (from 1¼ miles in the Dubai race) to a mile and a 16th, I figured I had to put some speed in him.
"I did such a good job of it that since the race, I've gotten three offers to train at Los Alamitos."
Mandella's reference was to the quarter horse track in Orange County.
Perfect Drift, a winner of more than $2.5 million from 23 career starts who was shipped in Tuesday from Louisville, Ky., was the opening-line second choice at 7-2. Trained by Australia native Murray Johnson, Perfect Drift will be ridden by Hall of Famer Pat Day. The race attracted another Eastern invader, Colonial Colony (8-1), who will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, the nation's leader in wins.
All eight entrants have wins in either graded or group stakes, making it one of the best-credentialed groups in Classic history. In addition to Pleasantly Perfect, Perfect Drift and Colonial Colony, it includes Hollywood Gold Cup winner Total Impact, who is trained by Rancho Santa Fe's Laura de Seroux out of the San Luis Rey Downs center in Bonsall.
"We call him (Total Impact) Slinky Dog because he's so long you could pitch a tent on his back," de Seroux said. "But he is a true mile-and-a-quarter horse, so we've got that going for us."
If all eight entered start, it would tie with the 1999 assemblage for the second-biggest field in the last six years behind the capacity 14 starters in 2002.
Only four runners started last year when Candy Ride won in a track-record 1:59.11 for the classic 1¼-mile distance and the Pacific Classics of 2001 and 2000 attracted six and seven starters, respectively.
The connections for Candy Ride – trainer Ron McAnally and owners Sid and Jenny Craig – will be represented this year by Argentine import El Elogiado, at 30-1 the longest shot in the opening line.