December 6, 2022

Breeders’ Cup qualifier among four stakes on Pacific Classic undercard

Master Piece and jockey Abel Cedillo win the Eddie Read at Del Mar (Photo © Benoit Photo)

Four stakes, including a “Win & You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), will be offered on Saturday’s Pacific Classic undercard at Del Mar.

Del Mar H. (G2) – Race 11 (9 p.m. ET)

Master Piece, a 3 1/4-length upsetter in the July 31 Eddie Read (G2), will look to guarantee a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf when lining up for the $300,000 Del Mar H. (G2) at 1 3/8 miles on turf. Trained by Michael McCarthy, the six-year-old gray missed by only a half-length when rallying for second in last year’s Del Mar ‘Cap, and Abel Cedillo will guide the confirmed closer.

Heywoods Beach, fourth in the Shoemaker Mile (G1) two back, showed an affinity for longer distances when capturing the 1 1/2-mile Cougar II (G3) on the main track last out. The five-year-old will switch back to turf for John Sadler, and Ramon Vazquez rides the early/presser.

Other contenders in the 11-horse field include Dicey Mo Chara, Gregdar, Masteroffoxhounds, Red King, and Tizamagician.

Del Mar Mile (G2) – Race 7 (7 p.m. ET)

Grade 3 winner Hong Kong Harry has current form, finishing second in the Eddie Read last out. Last year’s Pacific Classic (G1) winner Tripoli will switch back to turf, and 2021 Del Mar ‘Cap winner Astronaut will cut back in distance.

All three are certain to attract attention in a competitive renewal of the $300,000 Del Mar Mile (G2).

Grade 3 runner-up Goliad, a sharp wire-to-wire scorer over allowance foes at Del Mar July 30, is one to consider on the return to stakes. Eddie Read third Cathkin Peak and Wickerr S. upsetter Irideo are also among the 10-horse cast.

Del Mar Derby (G2) – Race 9 (8 p.m. ET)

La Jolla (G3) winner Cabo Spirit and Oceanside victor Balnikhov highlight nine three-year-olds in the $300,000 Del Mar Derby (G2) at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Grade 3-placed on the main track earlier this season, Cabo Spirit switched back to turf with a close second in June’s Cinema S. at Santa Anita and a half-length victory in the Aug. 7 La Jolla. Conditioned by George Papaprodromou, the gelded son of Pioneerof the Nile will break from the innermost post with Joe Bravo.

Balnikhov, a three-time winner in France before being imported to the U.S. this year, finished second in his first two stakes appearances, including the American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs, before breaking through with a 1 1/2-length tally in the Oceanside on Del Mar’s opening-day program. Umberto Rispoli retains the mount for Phil D’Amato.

Others to consider include multiple graded winner Slow Down Andy, who will try turf; last-out Cinema scorer War at Sea; and multiple stakes winner Mackinnon.

Shared Belief S. – Race 4 (5:30 p.m. ET)

The stakes action kicks off with the $125,000 Shared Belief S., and Los Alamitos Derby winner High Connection heads five sophomores in the two-turn mile test on the main track. Second when making his stakes bow in the Affirmed (G3) two back, the Connect colt should be forwardly placed from the start with Juan Hernandez, and Bob Baffert trains.

Baffert will also send out allowance scorer Armagnac, who returns to dirt after a fourth in the La Jolla. John Velazquez takes over the reins.

Multiple Grade 3 winner Newgrange, unraced since a sixth as the favorite in the Rebel S. (G2) in late February, has been transferred to D’Amato and returns from a 189-day layoff. The Violence colt will be ridden by Edwin Maldonado.