September 28, 2023

Tripoli accelerates to victory in Pacific Classic

Hronis Racing's Tripoli and jockey Tiago Pereira win the Pacific Classic at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club (Photo by Benoit Photo)

Finishing powerfully from just off the pace, Tripoli notched his first stakes win in Saturday’s $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar. The four-year-old colt rallied to overhaul pacesetter Tizamagician, scoring by a 1 1/4-length margin, and earned a free berth to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) in the “Win & You’re In” race.

Owned by Hronis Racing and trained by John Sadler, who combined to win the Pacific Classic for the third time in the last four years (Accelerate in 2018 and Higher Power in 2019), Tripoli was ridden by Tiago Pereira. The chestnut left the starting gate as the 6-1 fourth choice.

By Kitten’s Joy, and closely related to turf stakes winners Blind Ambition and Starfish, Tripoli raced exclusively on turf in his first 11 starts, winning only twice. The switch from turf to dirt served as the catalyst for a meteoric rise in form, as he comfortably annexed a conditioned allowance at Santa Anita in mid-June and followed with a fast-closing, half-length second in the July 17 San Diego H. (G2) at Del Mar.

Making his second career stakes attempt on Saturday, Tripoli saved ground from his innermost post, stalking about a length back in third as Tizamagician led by a short margin through opening splits in :23.52, :46.98, and 1:11.73. Tripoli launched his bid on the far turn, switching to the two path approaching stretch, and drove to take over after straightening for home, rolling through the final furlong unopposed.

“John (Sadler) told me before the race to be careful, because there were a lot of runners who had a similar style of running,” Pereira said. “So, I was okay running right behind the leaders. When it was time to run, I had plenty of horse. But once we got in front, he started looking around, waiting on other horses. I looked around and knew we were not going to get caught.”

“He looked good all the way,” Sadler added. “He broke on his feet so (Pereira) was able to tuck him in there and he looked comfortable all the way around. When (Independence Hall) started to slow up we were in a good spot. He had a perfect trip, give the rider a lot of credit. He rode him perfectly.”

Tripoli continued his ascension in the older male dirt ranks and showed an affinity for the 1 1/4-mile distance, stopping the teletimer in 2:02.37. And with the Breeders’ Cup Classic to be held at Del Mar on Nov. 6, Tripoli is a candidate to keep progressing over the next few months.

Tizamagician, the 6-1 fifth choice, held second by a 4 1/2 lengths over 7-2 Dr Post, who closed belatedly for third. It was another 1 1/4 lengths to 81-1 outsider Sheriff Brown in fourth. Independence Hall, 2-1 favorite Express Train, Royal Ship, Cupid’s Claws, and Magic On Tap came next under the wire.

Bred in Kentucky by Blue Devil Racing Stable, Tripoli was purchased for $450,000 at the 2018 Keeneland September yearling sale. He’s now earned $811,690, from a 14-4-3-3 record, for Kosta and Pete Hronis.

“It feels great to win it again, and you’ve got to give all the credit to the barn,” Kosta Hronis said. “Tiago rode a great race. It’s the only race he rode today because he wanted to focus on it. This horse has matured and just keeps coming along and today he proved himself. We didn’t know if he could go a mile and a quarter, but today we found out.”