Express Train Puts Shirreffs In Pacific Classic Spotlight

John Shirreffs has saddled four starters in the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic, and the closest he has come to a win in the Grade 1 fixture at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, Calif., was the third-place finish by Midcourt, off at odds of 7-1 and beaten 5 ¾-lengths by Maximum Security, in last year’s 30th running.

In providing Bob Baffert with a TVG Pacific Classic record-tying sixth victory, Maximum Security went postward as the 2-5 favorite. Of Baffert’s six wins in the race, five have come with either the favorite or second betting choice. The outlier: Richard’s Kid stunning at odds of 24.40-1 in 2009.

In Saturday’s 31st running of the 1 ¼-mile signature event of the summer meeting, Shirreffs has the 3-1 morning line favorite in San Diego Handicap winner Express Train. Baffert’s lone entry is 20-1 Magic On Tap, who was nearly 12-1 in the San Diego, stumbled at the start and finished fifth of eight, beaten 6 ¾-lengths.

If the odds stay that way to post time, Shirreffs will have a Classic favorite for the second time. Bertrando, the 2-1 favorite in 1994 off his victory a year earlier when trained by Bobby Frankel, got caught up in a speed duel for the first three quarters and faded to eighth of nine.

Earlier in the 1994 meeting, Bertrando had provided Shirreffs with the first of what has now become 17 Del Mar stakes victories. A TVG Pacific Classic would be a welcome addition and Shirreffs has reason for optimism about the 4-year-old son of Union Rags, owned by the C R K Stable of Lee and Susan Seareing, who has four victories from 12 career starts and earnings of $659,300.

“I think he’s coming into the race really well,” Shirreffs said.

And, as is always the case, Shirreffs, 76, will be focused intently on developments with his horse before, during and after the race.

“Like a lot of Union Rags (progeny) he can get a little hot (nerved up) in the paddock,” Shirreffs said. “He’s probably going to get a little hot no matter what.

“But if he can control his nervousness a little bit and maintain his focus, he’ll do really well. That’s a sign for him. He controlled himself well in the paddock before the San Diego and ran a very good race.”

The TVG Pacific Classic is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 6 at Del Mar.

The TVG Pacific Classic field from the rail with jockeys and morning line odds in parentheses: Tripoli (Tiago Pereira, 5-1); Tizamagician (Flavien Prat, 5-1); Dr Post (Joel Rosario, 4-1); Royal Ship (Mike Smith, 7-2); Express Train (Juan Hernandez); Magic On Tap (Abel Cedillo); Independence Hall (Florent Geroux, 5-1); Sheriff Brown (Edwin Maldonado, 30-1), and Cupid’s Claws (Umberto Rispoli, 15-1).

The post Express Train Puts Shirreffs In Pacific Classic Spotlight appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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