Midcourt Among Pacific Classic Nominees In Major Tune-Ups At Del Mar

Four nominees to the TVG Pacific Classic underwent workouts at Del Mar on Saturday morning and two marquee runners are expected to put in their final exercises on Sunday with the $500,000 signature event of the meeting set for next Saturday at the track just north of San Diego, Calif.

In alphabetical order the morning workers today were: Dark Vader (5 furlongs, :59.00), Improbable (5f, 1:00.60), Midcourt (5f, 1:02.20) and Sharp Samurai (5f, 1:02.00).

Defending Classic champion Higher Power is scheduled to be put through a final workout Sunday at around 6:30 as is San Diego Handicap winner and presumed Classic favorite Maximum Security.

Dark Vader, coming in following a one-mile allowance victory here on July 25, had exercise rider Jessica D’Amato, daughter of trainer Phil D’Amato, in the irons. They broke off about 14 lengths behind Tim Yakteen-trained Big Talker and made up the ground by the finish line.

“You never plan for anything like that, it just happened,” trainer Peter Eurton said. “I thought it went very well and (Dark Vader) was well within himself.”

Improbable, impressive when winning the Hollywood Gold Cup on June 6 at Santa Anita and the Whitney at Saratoga on August 1, went the first quarter in :24.40 and was “gliding all the way,” clocker Toby Turrell said.

Midcourt, who put Maximum Security to an extreme test and only lost by a nose in the San Diego Handicap, went the first three furlongs in :37.40 and maintained an even pace in what clockers said was a typical work for the John Shirreffs trainee.

Sharp Samurai is nominated for both the Classic and the Del Mar Handicap on turf the same day. A decision will be forthcoming Sunday when entries close and post positions are drawn.

Nominations to the TVG Pacific Classic closed Thursday with the connections of 13 horses paying $300 to indicate serious consideration for the race. Horses not nominated can be supplementally entered at a cost of $5,000 before the close of entries and post position draw tomorrow.

Those nominated, in alphabetical order with owners and trainers, are: Combatant (Hronis Racing; John Sadler), Dark Vader (Estate of Sharon Alesia, Burns Racing, Ciaglia Racing, et al; Peter Eurton); Higher Power (Hronis; Sadler); Improbable (China Horse Club International, SF Racing, Winstar Farm; Bob Baffert); Maximum Security (Gary & Mary West, Marnier or Tabor, et al; Baffert); McKinzie (Pegram, Watson or Weitman; Baffert); Midcourt (C R K Stable; John Shirreffs); Mirinaque (Maria C. Munoz; Munoz); Multiplier (Wachtel Stable, Barber or Kerr; Peter Miller); Potantico (Holly & David Wilson; Vladimir Cerin); Sharp Samurai (Red Baron’s Barn, Rancho Temescal or Glatt; Mark Glatt); Two Thirty Five (Manson, Nielsen or Rasmussen, et al; Richard Baltas); United (LNJ Foxwoods; Richard Mandella).

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