Pacific Classic 2021: Tough race to handicap with nine entered

Nine set to head into Saturday's Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar
Nine set to head into Saturday's Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar

Whilst it may not feature any truly big names - the Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar this Saturday looks set to be a good betting race. With nine having been entered and the Morning Line set at between 3-1 and 5-1 for the top six - it won’t be an easy one to handicap.

Neil Monnery gives us an overview of the race ahead of a full preview later in the week…

Pacific Classic 2021 Entries, Post Positions & Morning Line Odds
  • Post Position
  • Horse
  • Morning Line Odds

Post Position

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9


  • Tripoli
  • Tizamagician
  • Dr Post
  • Royal Ship
  • Express Train
  • Magic on Tap
  • Independence Hall
  • Sheriff Brown
  • Cupid's Claws

Morning Line Odds

  • 5-1
  • 5-1
  • 4-1
  • 7-2
  • 3-1
  • 20-1
  • 5-1
  • 30-1
  • 15-1

Express Train is a three time winner around Del Mar and the John Shirreffs four-year-old has been installed as the early favorite for the race this Saturday. That position as the front runner in the betting has been cemented after a win last time out in the San Diego Handicap whereupon he beat four of the other contenders for this one including Tripoli, who was coming on extremely strong and only took defeat by half a length. The Pacific Handicap is set to go ten furlongs rather than 8.5f and that could well come into play.

Third that day was the Richard Mandella trained Royal Ship who is the only horse this year to beat Country Grammar. Yes, the former Bob Baffert four-year-old has only raced twice but was considered one of the top older horses in the country but has been sidelined indefinitely due to an ankle injury. Royal Ship beat him at the Grade II California Stakes at Santa Anita in April. That is probably the most impressive win any of the nine entered for this race have on their resumes.

The trainer also has Tizamagician in the field who has bounced around the California circuit now for a while. A trip to Belmont for the Brooklyn Invitational saw him return with a decent enough second place but the caliber of horses he’s beaten so far in his career isn’t too much to write home about.

Dr. Post has traveled west to take on this race. The surprise runner-up in the 2020 Belmont Stakes has enjoyed a solid four-year-old season having won twice along with a bit of a lackluster showing in the Met Mile. He’ll have plenty of support in the pools but this is his first time shipping to California. That gives me plenty of concern despite the lack of top tier competition in the starting gate.

Last up of the six who are considered as real contenders is Independence Hall. A third place finish behind Knicks Go and Jesus’ Team in the Grade I Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park in January is his best showing and since then he’s placed fourth and third in races at Santa Anita. This son of multiple Grade I winner Constitution has been freshening up having not raced since April so he’s very much a potential wildcard.

Cupid’s Claws, Magic On Tap and Sheriff Brown are the three outsiders in the field.

J.N. Campbell will be previewing the race as part of his full analysis of the card at Del Mar with his thoughts and selections being posted on the site by Friday evening.

Del Mar Picks, Entries and Results