Pacific Classic, 2yo Races Highlight 2018 Del Mar Meet
Summer may have officially arrived in June, but for horsemen, racing fans, and bettors, the season doesn’t truly begin until the annual summer meets at Del Mar and Saratoga open for business in mid-July.Both meets are packed with rich stakes races that are expected to attract some of the most accomplished runners in the nation, as well as some of the most promising two-year-olds with 2019 Triple Crown aspirations. We’ve already taken a look at the Saratoga stakes schedule, so now let’s turn our attention to Del Mar and check out some of the highlights we can look forward to seeing there this summer….
Top-Notch 2yo Racing
What do the recent Triple Crown race winners American Pharoah, Nyquist, Exaggerator, California Chrome, and I’ll Have Another all have in common? That’s easy—they all ran at Del Mar as two-year-olds. Del Mar’s exceptional program of races for juveniles has been very successful at producing future stars. In addition to the numerous maiden special weights on offer, the stakes schedule includes the August 11 Best Pal Stakes (gr. II) and September 3 Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) for colts plus the August 5 Sorrento Stakes (gr. II) and September 1 Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) for fillies. Have a young turf horse in need of a race? The September 2 Del Mar Juvenile Turf and the September 3 Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf are other options.
Among the promising young runners we could see at Del Mar this summer is Instagrand, an eye-catching debut winner at Los Alamitos for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, while trainer Bob Baffert could potentially send out the promising but as-of-yet unraced Roadster.
The Pacific Classic
The annual highlight of the Del Mar meet is the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic (gr. I), a ten-furlong event that serves as a major prep race on the road to the Breeders’ Cup Classic. While the field is obviously still in flux, the multiple Grade 1 winner Accelerate is among those expected to target the race, with the seemingly ageless Hoppertunity—winner of the Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II) in June—looming as another possible contender.
We’ll get an early look at some of the other Pacific Classic candidates in the July 21 San Diego Handicap (gr. II).
Turf Racing for 3yos
While the summer’s major dirt races for three-year-olds are focused on the East Coast, Del Mar fills a niche for three-year-old turf horses with a strong slate of grass stakes events that tend to be excellent betting races. The series kicks off with the July 18 Oceanside Stakes for colts and the July 21 San Clemente Stakes (gr. II) for fillies, picks up steam with the August 5 La Jolla Handicap (gr. III), and culminates with the August 18 Del Mar Oaks (gr. I) for fillies and the September 2 Del Mar Derby (gr. II).
Who might we see in action? There’s River Boyne, 4-for-4 in turf races at Santa Anita this year, as well as the filly Paved, winner of the Honeymoon Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita last month.
Major Sprint Races
There will be no shortage of options for fast sprinters at Del Mar this summer! The July 28 Bing Crosby Stakes (gr. I) going six furlongs is the main highlight, but there’s also the seven-furlong Pat O’Brien Stakes (gr. II) on August 25, while turf sprinters will get a chance to shine in the August 17 Green Flash Handicap going five furlongs over the grass course.
The complete stakes schedule can be viewed on the Del Mar website. Which races are you most looking forward to?