2016 Pacific Classic results

2016 Pacific Classic Owned By ‘Chrome’

The 2016 Pacific Classic promised to be one of two things: an affirmation of California Chrome, or the most exciting upset of the entire year. Going off as the even money favorite, the Art Sherman trainee responded to the presence of Beholder and Dortmund by leading the field the entire way at the Del Mar race. The best three horses finished in the top three for those smart enough to box them all together for a big payout.

It was a slightly messy start, but California Chrome emerged from the early stages with a clear line to the front of the pack. He would take them out on a swift half-mile at :47.29 and demanded a strong pace from Beholder, a 3/1 third choice and Dortmund at 2/1. Those three were clearly a notch above the rest. It wasn’t even really all that close.

Leading by three lengths as they broke out of the back stretch, California Chrome sat comfortably in first and the drama increased as Beholder and Dortmund made a big move to push the pace entering the final sprint. But Victor Espinoza barely had to ask his horse for anything, and he rocketed down the stretch, with an unreal canter towards the finish line to dominate the 2016 Pacific Classic and earn the win.

It was the first time that Beholder posted back-to-back losses in her entire career. The champion mare last placed behind Stellar Wind at the Clement Hirsch Stakes. Dortmund, who drove California Chrome to the wire at the San Diego Handicap, simply didn’t have the gusto he had showed in that race. To put it simply, there was never any doubt who owned this race.

As the winner of the 2016 Pacific Classic, California Chrome has booked a free pass to the Breeders’ Cup Classic. It’s assumed that Beholder and Dortmund will both find their way in to that $6 million race as well by the time we get to the world championships.

“He’s just Chrome,” Sherman said gleefully after booking the 2016 Pacific Classic victory. “I just can’t believe that I’m lucky enough to have him. I’m almost sure he’ll be in the Hall of Fame, with all the records and everything. It will be great to say, ‘Hey, I trained a horse in the Hall of Fame.’ It’s a great privilege.”

California Chrome paid out $4.20, $2.60, and $2.20 across the board. Beholder returned $3.20 and $2.60, and Dortmund rewarded $2.40 to show in the 2016 Pacific Classic.

Bad Beat for Bettors as Fallen Leaf Rears Up at Wire

Cruising to Victory, Fallen Leaf Pulls up at Finish to Cost Bettors at Gulfstream

Saturday’s 11th race at Gulfstream looked like a first for Fallen Leaf, as the maiden was heading home to an easy win and her first victory in three tries. But a strange thing happened as she cruised to the finish with better than a 5-length lead.

The 5 ½ furlong maiden special weight race started well for Fallen Leaf, as the 2-year-old filly raced out and quickly took command. Off at odds of 7-1, it had been noted that Fallen Leaf has had trouble keeping herself together and has been prone to bad behavior and antics. As she moved around the far turn in front, the track announcer said “Fallen Leaf, minding her manners, has the lead by a length and a half.”

From there Fallen Leaf opened up on the field and took command to continue well clear in the final furlong. But as she moved towards the finish well in front, the tracked announcer called out “Fallen Leaf is sharp in victory. No antics of any kind.”

Then a very strange thing happened.

Watch and listen. If you bet on Fallen Leaf, you’re probably still in shock and telling your friends of the ‘bad beat’.

Fallen Leaf ducked sharply into the rail and reared up at the wire, tossing her rider Matthew Rispoli. She would be awarded a last place finish.

Few losses in horse racing can be as shocking, or frustrating. For the record, the race favorite Philly Mignon (5/2) won the race.


Saratoga Joins Pokemon Go Craze

Meet up Monday’s at Saratoga for Pokemon Go

Saratoga Race Course will become a destination for Pokemon Go players as a special site for the digital game during the final three Mondays of the 2016 meet. The first Pokemon Go competition at Saratoga will be held on Monday, August 22 and will continue during the Berkshire Bank Family Monday series on August 29 and September 5.

The Pokemon Go event was added to the weekly family festival that is held each Monday of the meet from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pokemon Go players can register at the Pavillion beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET. The individual who collects the most Pokemon throughout the day will be awarded 2,500 Pokecoins. Players must present their final tally of catches on their app to the attendant located at the Pavilion at the conclusion of the event. A leaderboard will be on display during the afternoon.

Pokemon Go horseLures will be dropped throughout the afternoon to attract Pokemon to various track landmarks, including the Saratoga Pavilion, Saratoga Walk of Fame, Horse Sense exhibit and the Jockey Silks Room porch. Players can replenish their Pokemon-catching tools at three Pokestops located on track grounds: the Big Red Spring, the Coach Stepping Stone near the Saratoga Pavilion; and the Union Avenue Entrance.

Berkshire Bank Family Mondays invites families and children to experience and enjoy a wide array of free games, attractions and educational activities, including the opportunity to pet a retired thoroughbred, against the backdrop of historic Saratoga Race Course.

The Pokemon Go world craze has created a smartphone phenomenon with some people even galloping their way on horseback. The Pokemon hotspots around Saratoga Springs have created a boost for some businesses, and now the Pokemon Go players can come to the track and enjoy the sensation at Saratoga.

Timonium to Feature $20,000 Trainer Bonus Program

The upcoming seven-day Timonium meet will feature $20,000 in trainer bonuses provided by the Maryland State Fair in an effort to encourage more entries. Previous meets featured bonuses that added up to $10,000, but the fair decided to kick in an extra $10,000 this time around, according to the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. The fair meet racing program is overseen by the Maryland Jockey Club.

“The state fair board asked me what they could do to entice more horses to make the racing go better,” said trainer Ferris Allen. Allen is also a board member on both the Maryland State Fair and the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. “They made the decision and left the particulars up to me. I sat down with (Maryland Jockey Club racing secretary) Georganne Hale, and we came up with a plan that would benefit as many trainers as we could.”

The plan is to pay $15,000 of the $20,000 through a points system: 10 points for first, five for second, three for third, and one point/starter. The trainer who accumulates the most points will earn $5,000, second gets $4,000, and third through fifth each get $2,000. The remains $5,000 is awarded to the trainer with the most earnings. If a trainer earns both the top earning bonus and is on the most-points list they are only eligible for the highest earning bonus of $5,000 and will be replaced in the points bonus by the next eligible trainer.

“We’re hoping the additional money here will tempt trainers to stay (in Maryland) and that guys with regional horses will throw Timonium into the mix for their horses,” said Allen. “Even if the race fields go up (by) just one horse, it will make a difference.”

Alabama Stakes Preview

Songbird Tries to Remain Unbeaten in Alabama Stakes

Six challengers will take a shot at undefeated champion filly Songbird Saturday at Saratoga in the $600,000 Alabama Stakes. The Grade I race will be the first time Songbird has attempted the 1 ¼ mile distance, but trainer Jerry Hollendorfer believes she’s ready for the added distance.

“She’s trained well on every racetrack— Keeneland, Santa Anita, and Del Mar —she just trains well on any surface, Hollendorfer said. “Based on appearances and looking at her record on paper you’d have to think that she wouldn’t have any trouble getting a mile-and-a-quarter,” he said. “I firmly believe that if we had decided to run in the Delaware Handicap on the 15th (of July) instead of coming here and running in the Coaching Club American Oaks, we were fully prepared to go a mile and a quarter. I feel like an extra eighth of a mile should be right up her alley.”

Some analysts will disagree. Songbird has won all nine of her races, including eight graded stakes. But in her most recent win, she ran the final furlong of the Coaching Club American Oaks in a slow :13.54 seconds, and there can be a significant difference between winning at nine furlongs and winning at ten.

Songbird will break from post position 6. But a strong challenge at this distance is expected, and Pioneer of the Nile filly Dark Nile has won four straight following a troubled trip in her debut. She’s worth a play in the exotics at 20-1, and has handled two turns. Her trainer Arnaud Delacour believes she’ll step up again breaking from the rail.

“It’s a bit of an audacious spot, but she’s come along nicely and I’ve always thought she would stay a mile and a quarter,” said Delacour.

Going for Broke makes her stakes debut for Chad Brown. The Blame filly was a maiden winner second time out, and has since captured two allowance races.

“She’s a nice filly who has run through her conditions,” said Brown. “We thought if we were going to get her to the Alabama we would avoid the Coaching Club, which looked difficult, and take one clean shot at a Grade 1. I think the filly will stay a mile and a quarter, but obviously for Songbird to lose something would have to really go wrong. Just to be in the race and have a chance for a piece of it is worth it for us.”

Going for Broke drew post 3 with regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr.

Freshened since running fourth in the Acorn, dual Grade 2 winner Go Maggie Go returns for Dale Romans. “Obviously it’s going to be a salty race,” said Romans, whose Keen Ice upset American Pharoah in last year’s Travers. “It’s hard to run at the level we should and still stay away from Songbird.”

Go Maggie Go drew post 4 with Luis Saez.

Beginning from post 5 is Family Tree, who won the Iowa Oaks June 30 and the Indiana Oaks 16 days later.

“I stepped up to the plate and took a chance, everybody is like, ‘Sometimes you’ve got to do it,’” said trainer Wayne Catalano.

Flora Dora and Weep No More, third and fifth in the Oaks, try Songbird again.

Flora Dora breaks from the outside with blinkers on and Manny Esquivel aboard.

“She’s been a bit more focused,” noted trainer Marialice Coffey. “We’re excited about her coming into this race.”

Weep No More, searching to recapture the form that won her the Grade 1 Ashland, breaks from post 2 and switches back to Corey Lanerie. Trainer Rusty Arnold feels the daughter of Mineshaft is a “true mile and a quarter horse.”

We’ll find out Saturday if Songbird is a mile and a quarter horse as well.

Alabama Stakes – Saratoga Race Course, August 20, 2017.

Race #10, Post time 6:18 pm PT

  1. Dark Nile           20-1    Joe Bravo
  2. Weep No More 15-1    Corey Laner
  3. Going For Broke 10-1    Irad Ortiz, Jr.
  4. Go Maggie Go 8-1     Luis Saez
  5. Family Tree 10-1    Florent Geroux
  6. Songbird 1-5     Mike Smith
  7. Flora Dora 20-1    Emannuel Esquivel


Pacific Classic preview

Pacific Classic Odds Favor ‘Chrome’

The 2016 Pacific Classic has quickly become the blockbuster event of the summer. The top three horses in the field are some of the best older horses in racing today and there’s certainly no better in 2016 than California Chrome who is boasting 7/5 odds as the favorite on the morning line. He is trailed closely by both Beholder and Dortmund, who share 9/5 odds.

The main threat to California Chrome at the 2016 Pacific Classic is definitely Beholder, who should have a clear line by running third from the outside. The living legend suffered her first defeat in two years at the Clement L. Hirsch when she lost a nailbiter to Stellar Wind. It will be interesting to see how she responds, but there’s strong money on Beholder having a rebound effort. Every time she has “lost” a race she has come back to win the next one.

Dortmund will also see 7/5 odds in the 2016 Pacific Classic but I wouldn’t be surprised to see his numbers alter towards as an independent third choice on the board. At 8-1-1 in 11 tries, Dortmund is the type of athlete that comes through when it doesn’t really matter. He placed third and fourth at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2015 and also placed behind California Chrome at the recently run San Diego Handicap. He is more of a gate keeper to the top level than a contender within it.

At 10/1, Hoppertunity is sure to draw at least a little interest from his fans but other horse players would be wise to stray away from this one. He checked at fourth in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita earlier this summer and his health has been somewhat of a mystery. I’m not convinced he’s flying at a hundred precent.

Hard Aces is fresh off a dominant performance at the Cougar II Handicap, which he won with ease. That victory should give him some strong momentum heading in to the 2016 Pacific Classic. He shares 12/1 odds with Win That Space, who came third at the aforementioned San Diego Handicap.

Three longshots round out the field. Two of those are Imperative and War Story, but the third is Dalmore who was last out winning the Affirmed. If you’re going to bank on any of these 20/1 horses then Dalmore is it.

But with such amazing talent at the top of the class in the 2016 Pacific Classic it’s very difficult to find value in taking a horse with even reasonable, midline odds. An exacta box featuring California Chrome, Dortumund and Beholder feels like the best bet you could make. Then just kick back and see which two of those three incredible competitors shows up on Saturday.

The winner of the 2016 Pacific Classic will get entry to the Breeders’ Cup Classic since it is a challenge series event. You can check out the action yourself on Saturday, August 20th at 6:15 PST / 9:15 EST from Del Mar.

2016 Best Pal Stakes

Klimt Overpowers 2016 Best Pal Stakes

Klimt is officially on the board as a stakes winner after dominating the 2016 Best Pal Stakes. The Bob Baffert trainee has already set his sights on the Del Mar Futirity in early September as his follow up race. All horse players should be tracking this Triple Crown hopeful from here on in until further notice.

There was some early drama out of the gates as a couple horses seemed to get caught up, but the two two in the field quickly asserted themselves. Big League took the lead and pulled the pack around the only bend of the 6 1/2 furlong race. Klimt sat in second after a slow start, while Drafted paced in third as a 10/1 outside shot.

Almost immediately in to the final stretch, Thirstforlife punched up in to second place while Drafted quickly deteriorated in to a hot mess. He would eventually place 6th in a field of as many at the 2016 Best Pal Stakes. Doug O’Neill’s trainees would never factor in this race as Rinse and Repeat took 4th while Secret House limped in at 5th. The trainer won this race last year with Nyquist, who would go on to win the 2016 Kentucky Derby, but couldn’t repeat the success this year.

Down the stretch, this race became a battle between Big League and Klimt. But the eventual winner would not be denied as he throttled through the finish line in decisive fashion to claim the 2016 Best Pal Stakes and serve notice to the rest of his age grade that he’s ready for the big time. We’ll see if this was just a one-off in less than a month, but Baffert seems confident in his new star’s abilities.

With the victory Klimt paid out $4.00, $2.60, and $2.10. Big League rewarded $3.20 and $2.60 in second place. Thirsforlife submitted a respectable run and gave $3.00 back to his bettors as the show horse in the 2016 Best Pal Stakes.

Retired No More – Calvin Borel Returns to Riding

Hall of Fame Jockey Calvin Borel will Resume Racing

Calvin Borel announced his retirement over four months ago on March 30, but the Hall of Fame jockey can’t stand being away from the sport he loves. Borel is returning to the saddle and will begin riding again August 27 at Ellis Park. The track confirmed Borel’s return on its website.

“When you love something, it’s hard to break away,” Borel said. “This is all I know how to do, and I love it. And I’m healthy. If I wasn’t healthy, I could walk away. But I’m doing so good now. I’m not fighting my weight. I’m so happy.”

Borel, 49, recently returned from New York, where he went for Friday’s Hall of Fame ceremony. He said Monday that he was conflicted when he quit riding at Oaklawn, that he was getting pressure from Lisa Borel to retire and return to Central Florida, where she lived and had show horses. While the jockey and Lisa were in a long-time relationship and she took his name, he said they never were married. Borel said he went to Florida, but the relationship didn’t work out.

Borel was famous for his relentless work ethic. Of retirement, Borel said: “I didn’t like it. I took enough time off. It wasn’t fun anymore. It came to point where this is all I know how to do, I guess. And I’m healthy. Some people quit because they’re tired of it. I’m not tired of it. I was in New York for like two weeks, getting on some horses for ‘Coach,’ Wayne Lukas, and he said, ‘You’re not ready to retire.’ And I’m happy. I just want to come back and ride and see what happens.”

Borel’s 5,146 victories rank No. 27 all-time, and he was he was inducted into the National Museum and Racing Hall of Fame in 2013. Borel won the Kentucky Derby three times and in 2009, he road Hall of Fame filly Rachel Alexandra to a 20-length victory in the Kentucky Oaks and then beat the boys in a famous Preakness Stakes victory. He would then guide the fantastic filly to two more wins that year beating the boys again in the Haskell and Woodward Stakes.

Michelle Payne Asked to Ride in Breeders’ Cup

Jockey Michelle Payne made history last year when she become the first ever female to the win the Melbourne Cup (Aus-I). That win made the racing community take notice of Payne’s skills and now she has been asked to ride Azkadellia in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Park on November 5th.

Azkadellia is a New Zealand-bred filly who is trained by Ciaron Maher on behalf of owner Ben Connolly. Because of her win in the Coolmore Legacy Queen of the Turf Stakes (AUS-I), Azkadellia earned an automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT). Philip Roost, Payne’s manager, confirmed the Breeders’ Cup offer to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“It’s my understanding that the horse will have two or three starts here in Australia before journeying to the States,” said Roost. “Michelle is no stranger to Azkadellia as she rode her in the early stages of her racing career.”

It’s been a long journey for Payne, who won the Melbourne Cup on top of 100-1 longshot Prince of Penzance. She then suffered life-threatening injuries in a May race, undergoing surgery for a torn pancreas. She recently came back to riding trackwork; no race riding yet.

Prince of Penzance connections said Payne would not be on top of their runner in the August 27 Memsie (AUS-I) because they didn’t think she would be fit to race. Payne had been on top of Prince of Penzance in 24-of-25 previous starts. Together they won seven races, finished second in six more, and third in an additional two other races.

2016 Beverly D Stakes

Sea Calisi Peerless In Beverly D Stakes

Four-year old filly Sea Calisi was marvelous in capturing the 2016 Beverly D Stakes this past weekend. The trainee of Chad Brown, ridden by Florent Geroux, was pitch perfect on the turf track and earned entry to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. It was a giant win for owner Martin Schwartz as well.

Elusive Million was the surprise leader out of the gates, but at 97/1 it was only a matter of time before she faded in to obscurity. Pressuring her in second was Zipessa, a very promising 10/1 outside shot. Coolmore and Ballydore jockeyed for third and fourth at a nominal 5/1 mark in the Beverly D Stakes for much of the early phases.

Everything changed as the field burst around the final corner. Zipessa had made her move during the turn and overtaken the lead, but Sea Calisi began to erupt and found a gear that no other rival could match. Even more shockingly, Al’s Gal swept around the outside from dead last to finish second. The 2016 Beverly D Stakes is a must-see video (below) simply to witness the closing speed of Sea Calisi.

“They work well as a team,” Brown noted when speaking of Geroux and Sea Calisi. “We’re lucky to have Marty and lucky to have her.” The whole team was obviously ecstatic after watching such a thrilling race. It sets up the late-blooming four-year old to become an absolute killer in the mare category next year. Her connections know that she’s a truly special horse.

Martin Schwartz echoed this sentiment following the Beverly D Stakes win. “It’s a great race and great people. It’s a beautiful race track with a good surface. Other than being out in the parking lot to start (post 13)…but Florent came and we couldn’t be more overjoyed.”

With the victory at the 2016 Beverly D Stakes, Sea Calisi paid $4.20, $3.40, and $2.60 across the board. Al’s Gal was the cash cow of the day at $10.40 and $6.40 in second. Zipessa returned $7.20 in third place.