Del Mar Summer: TVG Pacific Classic, By The Numbers - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Del Mar Summer: TVG Pacific Classic, By The Numbers

Accelerate won the 2018 Pacific Classic by a record 12 1/2 lengths

Since the first Pacific Classic was contested at Del Mar in 1991, there have been 10 winning favorites in the 31 runnings.

But that doesn't tell the whole story. None of the first six winners, beginning with 9-2 second choice Best Pal, was favored. The first winning favorite was Gentlemen, bet down to 1-2 odds in a field of five for the 1997 renewal. In fact, in the first 13 runnings of the Pacific Classic, Gentlemen was the lone winning favorite. That means nine of the last 18 runnings were won by favorites.

Undefeated Flightline, installed as the 1-5 morning line favorite in this year's TVG Pacific Classic, almost certainly will be the ninth odds-on betting choice to contest the 1 1/4-mile race. So far, only three of the eight odds-on favorites have won: the aforementioned Gentlemen; Accelerate the 2-5 favorite in 2018; and 2-5 favorite Maximum Security in 2020.

The losing odds-on favorites are led by Cigar, the 1-10 choice in 1996 who was bidding for his 17th consecutive victory and attracted a massive on-track crowd of 44,181 – largest ever for the Pacific Classic. Ridden by Jerry Bailey, Cigar was overtaken in the stretch by Dare and Go and jockey Alex Solis, who won by 3 1/2 lengths and paid $81.20 as the longest-priced winner in the race's history.

Inaugural winner Best Pal finished third as the 2-5 favorite in the 1993 running won by Bertrando; General Challenge finished fourth at 9-10 odds in 2000; Medaglia d'Oro was runner-up to Candy Ride as the 3-5 favorite in 2003; and Arrogate was second at 7-10 odds to Bob Baffert stablemate Collected in 2017.

Flightline will have only five opponents on Saturday, but this isn't the smallest Pacific Classic field. In 2003, only four horses lined up for the $1 million pot. Medaglia d'Oro, coming off an odds-on win in Saratoga's Grade 1 Whitney Handicap three weeks earlier, was trained by Robert Frankel, who'd won six of the first 13 Pacific Classics. Jerry Bailey was named to ride.

Candy Ride, an Argentine-bred who came to the U.S. in 2002 with a perfect three-for-three record, was trained by Ron McAnally. He'd been ridden in his two U.S. starts by Alex Solis and most recently by Gary Stevens, but Stevens suffered an injury the previous week in the Grade 1 Arlington Million. McAnally called on Julie Krone, who rode Candy Ride to perfection, tracking Medaglia d'Oro for the opening mile, then taking command in the stretch to win by 3 1/4 lengths. It was a virtual match race, with the other two runners, Fleetstreet Dancer and Milwaukee Brew, never a factor.

Candy Ride's final time, 1:59.11 set a track record that still stands.

While Krone is the lone female jockey to win the Pacific Classic, Beholder, who crushed nine male rivals by 8 1/4 lengths in 2015, is the only filly or mare to win it. Her bid for a repeat fell five lengths shy of California Chrome when second the following year. Only four other fillies have contested the race: Paseana (fifth in 1992); Island Fashion (ninth in 2005); Amani (sixth in 2012); and Byrama (seventh in 2013).

There have been three back-to-back winners: Tinners Way (1994-'95) and Skimming (2000-'01) were both trained by Frankel, while Richard's Kid (2009-'10) was trained to his two victories by Baffert.

Frankel and Baffert lead the way among trainers with six wins each, Frankel's coming from 19 starts and Baffert's from 28 starts. Richard Mandella won four from 19 starts and Sadler has won three from 16 (all three have come in the last four years).

Among jockeys, Mike Smith and Garrett Gomez have won the Pacific Classic four times each.

There are no 3-year-olds in this year's Pacific Classic, but five of the previous 31 renewals were won by sophomore stars: Best Pal (1991), General Challenge (1999), Came Home (2002), Dullahan (2012), and Shared Belief (2014).

Accelerate, the shortest priced winner  ($2.80) also holds the Pacific Classic record for the widest winning margin of 12 1/2 lengths.

Could that record be in jeopardy on Saturday? Considering that Flightline's winning margins were 13 1/4, 12 3/4, 11 1/2, and six lengths, you'd have to think so.

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