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Classic Tales

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 8/25/2010 11:41:13 AM

The $1 million mile and a quarter Pacific Classic has been about star power since Day One and this year will be no different. As for added incentive for the 10 entrants, the winner gets an automatic ‘win and your in’ ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Best Pal took the inaugural running. The late great Bobby Frankel saddled the next 4 winners.

Dare and Go upset the legendary Cigar to the tune of $81.20 when that runner was seeking to win his 17th straight. Unbeaten Candy Ride cashed in 2003 and California’s favorite son Lava Man won three years later. Last season Richard’s Kid was coming off a nose beat in a $150,000 stakes but he put it all together in the Classic coming from 2nd to last to post a career best 107 Beyer at 24-1.

Contenders this year include The Usual Q.T. and Unusual Suspect. Ben Cecil has a pair in the field in Crowded House and Isle of Giant’s while defending champ Richard’s Kid will be trying to rebound from a recent lost.

Perfect is what The Usual Q. T. has been at Del Mar after 3 starts. He has a super stalk and pounce style and was most impressive winning the Eddie Read going away. Q.T. just may be phoning home from the winner’s circle.

Unusual Suspect tracked a slow pace but would not go by a game and fast Temple City in the Cougar last month. This guy has been around the block and back but his best days are behind him.

Richard’s Kid has some things to prove. He obviously needed the Hollywood Gold Cup two back but basically ran around the track in the Cougar.

Kid picked up the tempo in a recent :58.60 bullet work but that is typical of a Bob Baffert trainee. The pro is dependent on a hot pace and a perfect traffic-free trip and that’s why he could be a liability at too short a price.

Crowded House was a Group 1 winner at 2 but only has one other victory on the slate. Backers have to hope he got a ton of experience out of his Read 4th.

Isle of Giant’s might have bounced a bit last time but his versatility is interesting as he can win on the front end or come from left field.

Temple City, just down the road from Arcadia, is a sleepy little suburb but there is nothing sleepy about the horse who is a flat out speed ball capable of tracking or leading and prevailing.

Hollywood Gold Cup winner Awesome Gem and San Diego Handicap victor Dakota Phone seem on target for their prospective starts in the Classic.

Gem recently prepped on the turf course where he finished with interest but his trainer is on record as saying he thinks the runner prefers Hollywood Park. And the horse is 0 for 8 at the beach.

Just the fact that Hold Me Back has shown up is important as his trainer Bill Mott does not go gallivanting around the country for fun.

Connections of Dakota Phone were confident going into this fixture. This is what Jerry Hollendorfer’s assistant trainer Dan Ward had to say about a recent drill.

Ward: “He went very well. Everything is going perfect right now for him. We're right on target.”

Awesome was far from that in last year’s Classic when a dull 7th at 17-1 but that happens when a runner has to come from left field.

Dakota Phone has a similar style but he loves this oval and won the prescribed prep in the San Diego in late July. He came from 11 back that day but can be much closer on his best day.

Battle of Hastings ran well to be second to Dakota Phone last time but his trainer Jeff Mullins is in the biggest slump he’s ever had in California, this guy has no speed and only at the last moment did Mullins decide to go.    

Here’s the projected scoop as the race unfolds.

Isle of Giants and Temple City will cut out the splits with The Usual Q. T., Unusual Suspect, Richard’s Kid and Dakota Phone in the second tier. That will leave the other 4 trying to save ground and hoping for a fast pace.

At the top of the lane, the leaders will start to fell the pressure. Richard’s Kid and Dakota Phone will get first run but be quickly joined by Awesome Gem, Hold Me Back and Crowded House.

When the smoke clears, Mott, who won this race 2 years ago with shipper Go Between, will watch his synthetic specialist Hold Me Back make the last run and get the money over Awesome Gem and Richard’s Kind.

Good luck.

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