The 2011 Del Mar summer meet features 42 stakes races worth a total of $ 7 million in purses, including eight Grade I races, but the centerpiece is the $ 1 million Pacific Classic which will be run on August 28, 2011.
Twirling Candy was voted the top three year old male for the 2010 Del Mar meeting, and he may be making a return this year. Last year he went two for two as he took the 1 mile Oceanside and then the 1 1/8 mile Grade 2 Del Mar Derby, both of which are grass races.
He has been trying his hand at longer distance dirt or synthetic track races lately, having run in this year’s Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup’s. He finished a close third in the latter race with no visible excuse. One has to question whether possibly the 1-¼ distance is a bit out of his range, but we probably need to see him race at that distance one more time to be sure. He is definitely talented and can run at the Grade 1 level at 1-¼. Hopefully we will see him in the Pacific Classic this year, and his owner Marty Wygod has said that the Classic is the tentative goal for him.
Bob Baffert’s two “dudes”, First Dude and Game on Dude finished first and second, respectively, in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 9, 2011, a race in which First Dude nailed Game on Dude right at the wire to prevail by a nose, which could only be resolved after a close examination of the photo. Hopefully we will see a rematch between the two dudes in the Pacific Classic, along with Twirling Candy who only finished a neck behind those two. Baffert has said that the Pacific Classic is a possibility for his two charges, but wants to see how they perform over the Del Mar polytrack surface.
Richard’s Kid was the 2009 and 2010 Pacific Classic winner who has been turned out but there is a possibility that he will return to racing.
Game on Dude won this year’s Santa Anita Handicap, but not to be forgotten are the second and third place finishers, Setsuko and Quindici Man. Setsuko looked like he had the measure of Game on Dude in deep stretch, but that one battled back and just prevailed over a game Setsuko. Quindici Man surprised many as he came from well out of it and closed with each and every stride to almost get up for the win. He ultimately finished ¾ of a length behind the winners, and had he another five seconds of ground over which to run, he might have gotten the win. These two even out-finished the above mentioned First Dude and Twirling Candy, who ran out of the money in the Big Cap. The addition of these two would add spice to what looks to be an exciting race.
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