Friday, June 14, 2024

Tripoli looking to make Pacific Classic history at Del Mar

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DEL MAR — Not only will trainer John Sadler be trying to win Saturday’s $1 million Pacific Classic for the fifth time in the past six years, but he’ll attempt to do it with a horse, Tripoli, who will be looking to join Tinners Way (1994-95), Skimming (2000-01) and Richard’s Kid (2009-10) as two-time winners of Del Mar’s signature race.

If Tripoli, who won the Grade I race in 2021, rebounds from a fifth-place finish in the San Diego Handicap on July 29 and earns the winner’s share of $600,000, he’ll become the first horse to win the race twice in non-consecutive years. The 6-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy didn’t run in last summer’s Classic because he was off form.

“Obviously we weren’t going to run him last year,” Sadler said. “We didn’t want to discourage him, but he likes this track. He was kind of a sneaky fifth in the San Diego and he’s trained really well since then. We’re going to give it a go again.”

Tripoli, who drew the outside post in the 10-horse lineup, will have Tiago Pereira in the irons. Pereira was aboard for the victory two years ago when Tripoli beat Tizamagician by 1¼ lengths at odds of 6-1. He’s won five of 26 races lifetime and could surpass the $1 million mark in earnings even if he doesn’t win.

Geaux Rocket Ride (5-2) and Arabian Knight (3-1), a pair of 3-year-olds, are the two favorites. Skinner (10-1) rounds out the trio of sophomores, the most in the 33-year history of the race. In addition to Arabian Knight, Bob Baffert will send out Defunded in an attempt to become the race’s all-time winningest trainer. He’s currently tied with the late Bobby Frankel atop the list with six victories.

“It’s a good, competitive race,” Sadler said. “You can make a strong case for a lot of different horses. I think it’s an evenly matched field.”

Sadler, who won last year’s Classic with 2-5 favorite Flightline by a record 19¼ lengths, was asked if he feels less pressure this time by sending out a horse that is 20-1 on the morning line.

“There’s always pressure when you’re training, but I liked the pressure of last year,” he said. “Pressure is good.”

The Pacific Classic is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race. The winner earns an expenses-paid berth in the $6 million Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 4. Two other Del Mar stakes on Saturday – the $300,000 Grade II Del Mar Handicap (Breeders’ Cup Turf) and $150,000 Grade III Green Flash Handicap (Turf Sprint) – mean an automatic starting position at the Breeders’ Cup for the winners.

RISPOLI BACK HOME

Umberto Rispoli, involved in a horrific spill in Thursday’s opening race at Del Mar when his mount clipped heels with a rival, is home and recovering from bumps and bruises. He was kicked on both legs after going down, but remarkably suffered no broken bones. No word yet on if he’ll ride the 11 horses he’s named on Saturday.

PACIFIC CLASSIC DAY AT A GLANCE

Key facts about Saturday’s Pacific Classic:

First post: 1:30 p.m.

Signature race: $1 million Pacific Classic, 6 p.m.

Key contenders: Geaux Rocket Ride (5-2 morning-line favorite), Arabian Knight (3-1), Defunded (4-1)

Other graded stakes: $300,000 Grade II Del Mar Handicap, $300,000 Grade II Del Mar Mile, $150,000 Grade III Torrey Pines Stakes, $150,000 Grade III Green Flash Handicap

TV: FanDuel TV

More info: dmtc.com

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