Arrogate, Accelerate, Collected to clash in Pacific Classic

Del Mar’s traditional centerpiece, the Grade I, $1 million Pacific Classic, takes place this Saturday. A field of eight led by ARROGATE, ACCELERATE, and COLLECTED will go 1 1/4-miles on the main oval. Post time for the prestigious event, Race 8 of 11, is set for 8:30 p.m. EST. The Pacific Classic is one of three stakes at Del Mar offering major points toward FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#2 COLLECTED (5-2) is a surprising entrant for Bob Baffert as his stablemate ARROGATE attempts to bounce back. COLLECTED has been campaigned conservatively but has flashed Grade I talent in 2017. His latest effort in the Grade III Precisionist was a tour-de-force, as he won by 14 lengths. ACCELERATE, the third-choice in the Pacific Classic field, was a distant third in that race at Santa Anita. COLLECTED may set the pace in this group lacking bonafide frontrunners, or he can stalk under Martin Garcia.

#3 ACCELERATE (3-1) was extremely impressive in the San Diego Handicap that notably featured a disinterested ARROGATE. Victor Espinoza sent him to the lead for the first time in nine races and it paid off handsomely. The new rider, addition of blinkers and switch to his favorite track (3-for-3 at Del Mar) all came together for ACCELERATE in that upset last month. The only thing that changes for ACCELERATE today is the distance. Instead of going 1 1/16th-miles, he’ll go 1 1/4-miles in the Pacific Classic. That could be ACCELERATE’s undoing, as he’s only been past 1 1/16th-miles once. The pedigree says he should relish going long, but he was scratched out of a 1 1/4-mile race earlier this year by John Sadler (the Santa Anita Gold Cup) to try a softer spot. That does not boost my confidence in ACCELERATE, but him winning would be no surprise.

#8 ARROGATE (Even, morning-line favorite) may have needed a race after his outstanding Dubai World Cup triumph and subsequent vacation, but he was so flat in the San Diego that he was virtually eased down the stretch by Mike Smith. His latest work left a bit to be desired for a horse of his caliber as well. Baffert has gone to great lengths to keep his fleet of handicap horses separated this year, so his entering COLLECTED could mean he has doubts about ARROGATE. The paddock and post parade behavior could tell the story of how ARROGATE does on Saturday. He was more quiet and subdued than usual going into the San Diego. If he’s “on his toes” leading into the Pacific Classic, he may make a mockery of this field. However, he’s not the soundest proposition in the world at even-money or less.

#5 HARD ACES (20-1) should be included in the lower rungs of trifectas and superfectas. The hard-knocking HARD ACES frequently runs in the money in spots like this; any pace up front will only help. Santiago Gonzalez has the call.

The play: $3 trifecta 2/3,8/3,5,8 ($12)

DFJ analysis: Tyler Baze looks like a wise pickup despite not having a mount in the Pacific Classic. He rides in nine races on Saturday and has a 5-1 shot or better in six of those. Itsinthepost (4-1) represents Baze’s best chance for a stakes score in the Grade II Del Mar Handicap.

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