Del Mar News: Post Position Draw for G1 Pacific Classic

(Seeking the Soul after winning the G2 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

From the Del Mar Media Team:

Charles Fipke’s well-travelled Seeking the Soul drew Post 5 Tuesday in a field of 10 and was installed the 3-1 morning line favorite for Saturday’s 29th edition of Del Mar’s premier test, the $1,000,000, Grade I TVG Pacific Classic, the west’s richest Thoroughbred race for older runners.

The stretch-running bay horse will be saddling up at his 10th different racetrack for the mile and a quarter headliner, coming off a sparkling tally in the Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs in Kentucky, a seventh lifetime victory that pushed his bankroll to a robust $3,335,802. He was handled by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez that day and the champion rider will jet west from his Saratoga headquarters to be on board again Saturday.

The TVG Pacific Classic is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, meaning the horse home first is guaranteed a spot in the starting gate for the $6-million Breeders’ Cup Classic, which will be run for the 36th time this year on November 2 at Santa Anita Park.

The TVG Pacific Classic will be one of five Graded stakes on the shore oval’s exceptional Saturday program, the first time that many major added-money events have been run on one Del Mar card. The day’s 11-race schedule is one of the best ever offered in the track’s 80-year history and its (non-Breeders’ Cup) single day betting mark of $25,870,431 may be in for a fall.

Trainer Dallas Stewart, who has guided Seeking the Soul over four seasons and 27 starts, was asked immediately after the draw if Post 5 was a good one. “Why not,” he said. “My horse is doing good, he’s training good and I expect a big race from him Saturday.”

The TVG Pacific Classic, which was captured last year by champion Accelerate and has gone to Eclipse Award heroes California Chrome (2016), Beholder (2015) and Shared Belief (2014) of late, will reward its winner with a check for $600,000.  Second place is worth $200,000 and running third pays $120,000.

Seen as Seeking the Soul’s chief rivals in what looms as a wide-open betting contest are Reddam Racing’s Pavel (7-2), second in this race last year and a winner of more than $2-million, and WinStar Farm and China Horse Club International’s Quip (9/2), another eastern invader who is a $1-million earner and was second to Seeking the Soul in the Stephen Foster last out.

The TVG Pacific Classic will be the 10th race on the day with a post time of approximately 6:35 p.m.

The complete field for the TVG Pacific Classic in post postion order with riders and morning line odds follows:

Post PositionHorse/JockeyMorning Line Odds
Tiago J. Pereira
Florent Geroux
Mario Gutierrez
Martin Garcia
John R. Velazquez
Flavien Prat
Mike E. Smith
Rafael Bejarano
Abel Cedillo
Joseph Talamo

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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