Pacific Classic RECAP + TRAVERS This Week! - Super Screener
Super Screener

Pacific Classic RECAP + TRAVERS This Week!

Photo By Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire


It was Del Mar’s biggest day of the meet and the two G1 races, the Del Mar Oaks and the Pacific Classic, told us a lot about the importance of these races leading into the Breeders’ Cup. Bottom-line?…look to other preps for serious contenders heading into the first weekend in November. 

Let’s be honest, no one was really that excited about this year’s edition of the Pacific Classic after one of the nation’s top dirt milers/sprinters, Catalina Cruiser, withdrew from the race. That left us with a hodge podge of past-peak veterans and “B”-player 4-year-olds to work with. The Super Screener didn’t have strong convictions in a race that if you asked 10 people who they liked, you would get 10 different answers. 

The Super Screener didn’t see anything of interest in Seeking the Soul or War Story and they finished up the track. Of the 4 year-olds, Draft Pick offered the most promise in a tough-to-figure affair and at least he fired for a strong 2nd place finish as the Super Screener Top Long Shot pick at odds of 13-1, after opening on the board at 4-1. Quip was a big disappointment, but the poor finish was not a complete surprise. Less than the distance question it was more about could this horse string together a couple of good races in a row and handle the deep Del Mar surface.  As a 3 year-old, he was always 2nd tier. 

As for Higher Power, with all apologies, we didn’t see that massive improvement coming. Take a look at the morning-after BRIS past performance for Higher Power:

Note that prior to the Pacific Classic, the biggest BRIS Speed Rating this horse earned was a 96 on a sloppy Fair Grounds track in a low-level Optional Claimer, and since that race he was showing a decline off that lifetime top. We even stated that he would need to improve by 8 lengths to impact here. If that BRIS Speed Rating of 110 is correct (we believe it is over stated by 6 to 8 points) then this horse improved by an impossible 14 lengths off his previous lifetime top. Sour grapes aside, that kind of massive jump forward defies any aggressive form cycle progressions that I have worked with. While I would like to say right now that we will be taking a big stand against Higher Power in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the division is so up for grabs that the result of that race could be as chaotic as the result of this one.

One final observation… the first three finishers in the Pacific Classic raced on the Del Mar surface in their prior races. This year’s surface is very deep. The good news is that, to date, there have been no racing casualties at Del Mar.  The bad news is that unless you are shipping in from CD, horses that have not raced or trained on the surface have been struggling. Something to note as we go through the rest of the meet.

Alabama (G1)

The G1 Alabama got us off to a good start as the Super Screener Top Win and Top Board Hitter pick, Dunbar Road, made it look easy overcoming that predicted soft pace with that quick turn of foot to surge ahead for the win. Here’s what the Super Screener had to say about this filly:

Pace will be quite modest with #6 Ulele inheriting the lead and #1 Dunbar Road, #2 Lady Apple and #5 Street Band pressing with that trio advantaged by tracking a slower pace, showing balance in their energy distribution profile and possessing stamina breeding. #1 Dunbar Road stands out here due to the fact that she sat off a glacially slow pace but then showed that deadly turn of foot in dismissing the G2 Mother Goose field, including the heavily advantaged front runners. Not the saltiest field but she did everything the right way. So the final BRIS Speed Rating for that race is severely understated due to the extremely slow pace. Once adjusted, form cycle analysis indicates this lightly raced filly is ready to submit a new lifetime top via that continued progression in her form cycle. Tough to get value here but she is a key win player.

What would have made the outcome of this race even sweeter was if our Top Value Pick, Street Band, could have denied the nose advantage to Point of Honor in losing 2nd place by that margin of difference. That outcome would have resulted in the $30 1,5 Exacta Box and $9.50 in Trifectas firing for a great pay day. However, the smaller suggested Exacta and Trifecta wagers did click for the more modest payouts.

Del Mar Handicap (G2)

United was our top win pick in this race, but he was scratched changing the complexion of this race.  We certainly missed the boat on Acclimate, putting too much weight on his flop last time out going shorter. He got the unanticipated uncontested, comfortable lead and never looked back.  The Super Screener Top Long Shot pick, Blended Citizen, did manage to defeat three favorites to finish 4th at 23-1.  If you tossed Acclimate in the win spot on that suggested Superfecta ticket you were a big winner of over $2,000 as we isolated Blended Citizen with Oscar Dominguez in the 4th place slot of that ticket.

$.70 Superfecta 2,4,6 with 1,2,3,4,6,7 with 2,4,6 with 1,3

Torrey Pines (G3)

As the Super Screener indicated, Fighting Mad would not have a problem making a transition from sprinting to a 2-turn route and was prepping extremely well heading into this race. What was somewhat of a surprise was the lack of any pressure this filly faced in the early going. She was able to jump to a clear lead then draw away at will. 

Top Win Pick, Into Chocolate, had every advantage coming into this race and offered value at 7-1. She got the pace she needed but just got passed at the wire by the deep closer, Hollywood Hills, who proved the route distance doesn’t hamper her late kick. She was the longest shot on the board at 30-1 and resulted in the 1,6,7 with All with 1,6,7 Trifecta hitting to the tune of $284.

Del Mar Oaks (G1)

The most anticipated race of the day and the one earning our highest conviction rating was the G1 Del Mar Oaks. The Super Screener easily cited Cambier Parc as the Top Win and Top Board Hitter pick despite the lack of value offered. She just stood above the Southern California-based opponents, with NY shippers having had great success in recent editions of this race. She got the perfect pressured-pace set up and a clean trip and when John Velasquez pushed the button, she engaged that brilliant turn of foot to explode past rivals in the final yards.

Great betting race featuring a full field of 14 with a more-than-fair pace set up which will favor those with a late turn of foot that are either proven at 1 1/8 miles or show both a balanced energy distribution profile and the breeding to get longer routes. Chad Brown invades Del Mar where he has had great success and it is likely that one of his pair will win this. #1 Cambier Parc has the best shot and couldn’t be coming into this race any better. Faced much, much tougher in her last 3 races including finishing a few lengths behind the clear division leader, Concrete Rose, in the salty G1 Belmont Oaks. She possesses that patented late turn of foot so common to Chad Brown’s best turf stars. She benefits from the cut back in distance and competition level. Has not missed the Superfecta in 5 turf starts and will not miss the Exacta here. Top win pick and board hitter.

The Super Screener Top Value play and the only other “A” horse, #14 Hidden Treasure, the European shipper, finished 2nd so the Screener hit the Exacta cold. One has to wonder if a better draw than the far outside post would have made the finish a bit closer.  Regardless, at 9-1 she offered solid value and wasn’t a cinch for the Exacta finish. Here’s what the Super Screener had to say about Hidden Treasure prior to the race:

Flavien Prat had the opportunity to ride just about any filly in this field and he opted for the Euro shipper #14 Hidden Treasure. Tough draw but he’ll work a trip out from there. This closer gets the favorable pace set up and first Lasix, faces much easier and form cycle analysis says he is sitting on a big one. Use!

To round out the successful outcome of this race, our other Top Board Hitter #11 Lady Prancealot did what she always does… close furiously to catch an “under” spot which in this case was the bottom of the Trifecta. 

#11 Lady Prancelot – Top Board Hitter/Deep Closer – Runs slow early and very fast late. No filly will be coming on with more energy late than this one. She rarely misses the Superfecta and is a very reliable “single under” horse here given a favorable pace set up. Win?

In the end, while the Super Screener Top Long Shot player (#12 Out of Balance) didn’t impact at odds of nearly 47-1, the rest of the strategy worked out and resulted in suggested Exacta and Trifecta wagers cashing for over $900.

The summer’s stakes racing culminates into a crescendo this weekend as it is Travers Stakes Day at Saratoga. In that headliner event, we get to see many of the Triple Crown players as well as late-developing new shooters face off to see if anyone can emerge from this division as the clear leader with the hopes of parlaying a win here into a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. In addition, the undercard is loaded with five, yes, five G1 Stakes races to cap off the biggest weekend in summer racing. We’ll have it all covered for you right here with the Super Screener.

Until this coming weekend, Go Fast and Win!


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