2022 TVG Pacific Classic Betting Odds and Contenders Preview
Flightline faces five foes in the 2022 renewal of the $1,000,000 Pacific Classic, scheduled for Saturday, September 3 at Del Mar! In addition to such a rich purse, the 1 ¼-mile dirt race also offers an expenses-paid berth into the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), the most important long-distance dirt race of the year.
Though Flightline has been the buzz horse since the day he sold for $1,000,000 as a yearling, the task will not be easy. He tries a mile and a quarter for the first time ever, and makes only the fifth start of his ethereal career. His foes are all fixtures in top-level races on the West Coast, meaning the path to a Breeders’ Cup bid will not be easy.
Read on to get to know the field, find out about the history of the race, and know how to watch and wager on the Pacific Classic online!
Pacific Classic 2022 Information
Race Date: Saturday, September 3, 2022
Track: Del Mar
Post Time: 5:30 p.m. Pacific time
Distance: 1 ¼ miles (dirt)
Age/Sex: three-year-olds and up
Where to Watch: FanDuel TV
Where to Bet: TVG.com and FanDuel Racing
Pacific Classic Odds
Del Mar drew the official field for the 2022 Pacific Classic at a ceremony on the evening of August 30. The morning line has been determined: Flightline will probably be a heavy favorite, meaning that you will almost certainly get long odds if you like any other horse in the race.
This is the 2022 Pacific Classic field in post-position order including trainers and jockeys.
|1||Extra Hope||Richard Mandella||Tyler Baze||30-1|
|2||Country Grammer||Bob Baffert||John Velazquez||4-1|
|3||Royal Ship||Richard Mandella||Mike Smith||8-1|
|4||Express Train||John Shirreffs||Victor Espinoza||12-1|
|5||Flightline||John Sadler||Flavien Prat||1-5|
|6||Stilleto Boy||Ed Moger, Jr.||Juan Hernandez||20-1|
Make sure to watch the odds on FanDuel TV as post time draws closer. If a horse you expect to be a long shot takes a surprising amount of race-day action, you can find out whether there is a good reason for that, or if it just means you are getting a better price on other horses than you otherwise would. On the other hand, if an expected favorite is not taking so much action at the windows, you can decide whether you are getting good value or if there is a logical reason to share their skepticism.
Pacific Classic Prep Results
Three of the six horses in the 2022 Pacific Classic come in from the local prep race, the 2022 San Diego Handicap (G2) on July 30. At 1 1/16 miles, it is significantly shorter than the Pacific Classic, but it does show if a horse can handle the love-it-or-hate-it Del Mar strip. The horses who come into the Del Mar meet’s future race are the top three finishers from that prep. Royal Ship, sent off a 9.5-1 longshot in the San Diego, took complete command into the lane and opened up to win by 2 ¼ lengths. Country Grammer, sent off as the 2-1 favorite despite having been off since March, finished a clear second best. Stiletto Boy, who did the dirty work prompting the pace in the San Diego, flattened out to third, another 4 ¼ lengths back.
Each of the other three comes out of a different race. The only other horse who prepared at Dell Mar is Extra Hope, who most recently finished third beaten only 1 ¼ lengths in the 1 ½-mile Cougar II (G3) on July 24. Favorite Flightline last won the Met Mile (G1) in stalk-and-pounce fashion June 11 at Belmont. Express Train has been laid off since finishing a chasing second to Stilleto Boy in a four-horse renewal of the Californian (G2) on April 30 at Santa Anita.
Pacific Classic Contenders
Extra Hope: Third in the Cougar II last out, Extra Hope is the only horse turning back in distance for the Pacific Classic. He has a strong record at Del Mar, in the money in five of seven races over the course, and he ran well enough in both the Cougar II and the 1 ⅛-mile Native Diver (G3) in 2020 to suggest that he should be able to handle 1 ¼ miles. The rail draw is a concern, but if he can work out a stalking trip he could do well third off the lay for Richard Mandella.
Country Grammer: He was defeated at odds-on in the San Diego last out, but that was his first start in four months and the 1 1/16-mile trip was too short for him. He is a two-time top-level winner at a mile and a quarter, and he has the tactical ability to work out a good trip in this short field. Though he has so far not shown the brilliance of the likely favorite, he is a more experienced horse who has already proven he has the right stamina.
Royal Ship: The “A” entrant from the Richard Mandella barn, he shocked Country Grammer in the San Diego in his first start off a two-month break and now comes second off the lay. He keeps regular rider Mike Smith, who has piloted him to wins from both off the pace and off it. He has run on for a piece in two of his three tries at a mile and a quarter, and in his current form, it would not be a big surprise for him to do so again.
Express Train: He has been a fixture in major handicap races out west for the last couple of years, and he won the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) at 1 ¼ miles two starts back. He loves Del Mar as well: in five starts, he has three wins and a second. His tactical speed gives him a chance to carve a trip under Victor Espinoza. The big question for him is the layoff: he has been drilling regularly since mid-June for strong layoff trainer John Shirreffs, but he also faces some of the toughest horses he has ever seen.
Flightline: He cleared a major hurdle in the Met Mile: he shipped out of California, stretched out to a mile for the first time, started poorly, and still won by six lengths. However, he tries new challenges this time. Not only does he stretch out to a mile and a quarter for the first time, but he tries two turns for the first time. The pedigree bodes well: he is by dominant Belmont Stakes sire Tapit out of Feathered, a mare who was Grade 1-placed at a mile and a quarter. But, even with his brilliance in a short field, how appealing can it be to bet a horse at 1-5 or even 1-9, trying two turns for the first time?
Stilleto Boy: He has speed from an outside gate, which could help him work the right trip in a short field. And, he almost always runs well; his consistency is admirable. However, the distance may be his Achilles heel: the last two times he finished off the board were both Grade 1 races at 1 ¼ miles, and even the third-place finish in a Grade 1 at that distance back in March was a nine-length third behind Express Train.
Pacific Classic Past Winners Past Performances
In recent years, the San Diego has emerged as the major place to look for Pacific Classic winners, which comes as no surprise since it is the other major handicap-division race at Del Mar in the summer. The last two winners have come from the San Diego: Tripoli (2021) finished second, and Maximum Security (2020) won. California Chrome (2016) also won the San Diego immediately before winning the Pacific Classic.
Other handicap-division races that have produced Pacific Classic winners in the last ten years include the Santa Anita Gold Cup, its predecessor the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1), and the Precisionist (G3). However, four of the last ten winners have prepared in less traditional circumstances. Two sophomores prepared against their own age group: Dullahan (2012) had last finished fifth in the Haskell (G1), and Shared Belief (2014) won the Los Alamitos Derby (G1). Beholder (2015) beat fillies in the Clement L. Hirsch (G1) before defeating males. And, Higher Power (2019) tuned up with a second-place finish in the Wickerr, a restricted turf mile during opening weekend of Del Mar.
Pacific Classic Undercard
The Pacific Classic is the featured tenth race on Del Mar’s eleven-race Saturday card. Five of the eleven races on the card are stakes races. The day’s 11th race, the Del Mar Handicap (G2), offers a berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf to its winner. The Del Mar Derby (G2) and the Del Mar Mile (G2) are also graded events on the grass, and the Shared Belief for three-year-olds on dirt rounds out the stakes portion of the card. But, with rich purses and big fields plan to watch all day on FanDuel TV!
Del Mar Race Track
Del Mar Race Track is located just north of San Diego and about two hours south of Los Angeles. As Pacific Classic’s famous song says, you can “take a plane, take a train, take a car.” After all, the rail line stops just yards away from the track entrance. Fans can see the ocean from up in the grandstand off past the head of the stretch.
There are several trackside restaurants available, including Red Star Café, Stretch Run Grill, Veranda Café, and 17 Hands. Horsemen and fans alike gather to dine overlooking the paddock or just above the finish line and enjoy both cuisine and racing action.
Del Mar Race Track has a one-mile oval with chutes for 7/8 and 1 1/4 mile races and a seven-eighths mile oval with a diagonal straight away chute for 1 1/16 and 1 1/8 mile horse races. The turf course is a combination of Common Bermuda and Hybrid Bermuda.
More recently, the Del Mar Race Track underwent a major renovation to modernize facilities. Thanks in part to those changes, as well as a widespread advertising campaign anchored by the slogan, “Where the Turf Meets the Surf,” the Del Mar Race Track continues to post records in handle and attendance while offering some of the greatest thoroughbred horse racing in America.
Pacific Classic FAQ
Q: When is the Pacific Classic?
A: Saturday, September 3, 2022, at 5:30 p.m. Pacific time.
Q: Where is the Pacific Classic?
A: It takes place at Del Mar Race Track in Del Mar, California.
Q: Which trainer has the most wins in the Pacific Classic?
A: Both Bobby Frankel and Bob Baffert have won the race six times. Baffert most recently won in 2020 with Maximum Security, and will try to extend his record with Country Grammer this year. Richard Mandella, who entered both Royal Ship and Extra Hope, has won the race four times, most recently with Beholder (2015). John Sadler, who trains Flightline, has three winners including Tripoli from last year.
Q: Who is the favorite for the Pacific Classic?
A: Flightline has been named the 1-5 morning line favorite, and he should go off at similarly short odds come post time.
Q: Who is the best Pacific Classic jockey?
A: Garret Gomez and Mike Smith are tied with the most wins; each has won the race four times. Mike Smith, who most recently won in 2014 with Shared Belief, will try to win his fifth with Royal Ship.
Q: Who won the Pacific Classic in 2021?
A: Tripoli won the race in 2021. Though Tripoli will run on turf this Saturday in the Del Mar Mile, his trainer John Sadler sends out Flightline in the Pacific Classic.