Ten Things You Should Know: Pacific Classic
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor

Originally published on August 25, 2011

Beholder winning the Pacific Classic
Beholder becoming the first female to win the Pacific Classic in 2015 (Eclipse Sportswire)

1) The Pacific Classic is a Grade 1 race open to 3-year-olds and older run at the Del Mar Racetrack in Del Mar California, located about 20 miles north of San Diego. This year’s edition is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series, the winner will qualify for the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November.

2) The inaugural Pacific Classic was run in 1991. Its $1 million purse was the largest in Del Mar history. It has been a Grade I race since 1993.

3) While it has a considerably shorter history than its companion races at Santa Anita Park, it is one of the top prizes for older runners in California along with the Gold Cup at Santa Anita and Santa Anita Handicap.

4) The race is currently run at 1 ¼ miles. Track records for the distance were set at Del Mar in the Pacific Classic in 1993 (Bertrando), 1994 (Tinners Way), and 2003 (Candy Ride), 2011 (Acclamation) and 2012 (Dullahan). The current stakes and track record on the dirt is held by Candy Ride (1:59.11) and the current synthetic record by Dullahan (1:59.54).

5) California favorite Best Pal won the first edition of the race during the second year of his California Horse of the Year run from 1990 to 1992. In 1995, he had a 2-year-old stakes race named in his honor at Del Mar. Best Pal was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2010.

6) Four winners of the Pacific Classic have won California Horse of the Year, but no winners have ever been awarded the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year. However, two second place finishers have gone on to win the Horse of the Year: Cigar (1996) and Tiznow (2000).

7) In 2015, two-time champion Beholder became the first female to win the Pacific Classic when she crushed a field of males that included the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern by over 8 lengths.

8) In 2006, former claiming horse Lava Man won the Pacific Classic and became the first horse to sweep the Santa Anita Handicap, the Hollywood Gold Cup (now known as the Gold Cup at Santa Anita), and the Pacific Classic in one year.

9) Before winning the 2004 Pacific Classic, Pleasantly Perfect won the 2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic and the 2004 Dubai World Cup.

10) Trainer Bobby Frankel won four of the first five editions of the race. He won two more in 2000 and 2001 for a stakes record of six. He also saddled two of the three dual winners of the Pacific Classic: Tinners Way (1994 and 1995) and Skimming (2000 and 2001). The other dual winner, Richard’s Kid (2009 and 2010), was trained by Bob Baffert.

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  • Isn’t #2 incorrect? I don’t know when the race became a Grade 1, but I’m pretty sure it was well before 2007.

  • Hi Dave: Thanks for the comment…yes you are correct and #2 has been updated. Kevin

  • Interesting trivia on a great race! I believe, however, that the author is refering to the Santa Anita Handicap and not the Santa Anita Derby as stated in the third.

  • You are correct Stephanie, it’s been updated… thanks! Be sure to check out our Ten Things for the Santa Anita Handicap too! :)

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