2020 Pacific Classic (Del Mar) Predictions, Betting Odds & Picks

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Maximum Security (1/1) at odds of even money or better.

Post Position and Odds – Pacific Classic

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2020 Pacific Classic at Del Mar!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
V Espinoza J Shirreffs
F Prat J Sadler
T J Pereira M Munoz
U Rispoli P Eurton
A Cedillo B Baffert
J J Hernandez M Glatt

Maximum Security, the 3-year-old champion of last year and unbeaten in two starts this year, headlines a field of six for the premier race of Del Mar’s summer season, Saturday’s $500,000 Pacific Classic.

It has not always been easy for the son of New Year’s Day, but Maximum Security has overcome more than his share of controversy to consistently beat all comers in his 11-race career. Most recently he made his first start for new trainer Bob Baffert, a winning one when earning a hard-fought victory in the San Diego Handicap (G2), which is the local prep for the Grade 1 Pacific Classic.

Chief among the champion’s rivals will be Higher Power, the defending champion of the Pacific Classic, as well as Midcourt, who raced Maximum Security to a photo finish last time in San Diego.

Adding a little intrigue to the 1 ¼-mile affair will be the import from Argentina, Mirinaque. The 4-year-old gray colt is a two-time Group 1 winner in his native land and will be making his U.S. debut on Saturday.

Best Bets for the Pacific Classic

Here are my plays ($30 in total)

$10 Trifecta key – Maximum Security over Higher Power and Mirinaque = $20

$5 Trifecta key – Maximum Security over Higher Power and Sharp Samurai = $10


Maximum Security 1/1

How to Watch the Pacific Classic

Pacific Classic Race Information
What Pacific Classic (G1)
Where Del Mar
When Saturday, August 22 — 9:30 PM EST
How to Watch TVG
Purse $500,000

Race Analysis

Maximum Security

I believe we will learn plenty about the hopes of Maximum Security to prove himself the best dirt horse in America later in the year in the Breeders’ Cup Classic when he runs second off the layoff on Saturday in the Pacific Classic. While his recent nose victory in San Diego may have been underwhelming to some, I thought it was a strong effort considering the layoff, weight assignment, and the less than perfect set-up. I expect none of those excuses to be a worry on Saturday. While the five horses below him are all solid, he stands well above them and should be ready to prove himself once again in an important race. With an outside draw in the six-horse field, he should be able to dictate exactly when he wants to take charge. He is strictly the one to beat and the top pick.

Higher Power

Well-proven at the 10-furlong distance, the son of Medaglia d’Oro ran the race of his life last year to win the Pacific Classic in a romp. Since then, he has been a little hit or miss, but his races that came at the distance were both pretty solid. Last time, when a well-beaten third in the San Diego, I think he was taken out of his best running style when he made a quick early move. On Saturday, I expect a more patient ride behind the speed. I really do not like his chances to beat the favorite again, but he is the most likely horse to finish second or third behind him.


He gave the favorite everything he wanted last time in San Diego, only to be beaten by a nose. It was his best performance of the year and sets him up for the Pacific Classic. This time, though, they will be going 3/16 of a mile farther and he’ll have to tangle with Maximum Security at even weights. Throw in another horse with good speed in Dark Vader and I suspect he will have a tougher time sticking around all the way to the wire. As the second or third choice on Saturday, I will take a stand against him.

Sharp Samurai

This one has made a nice career for himself on the Southern California turf, where he has consistently been a dangerous horse in graded stakes racing. Bred for the dirt, they have found a difficult spot for his return to the main track, but on the plus side, he comes in off an excellent runner-up finish behind United in the recent Eddie Read (G2). He seldom runs a poor race, so if the transition to dirt is seamless, look for him to be in with a real shot to hit the board in here at attractive odds.


It’s really hard to know how good this one will do in his first start in America, but generally speaking, I prefer the form of horses coming from Argentina over any other South American country. And in Argentina, he was very good. The grandson of Storm Cat competed well in all nine of his career races, and especially on dirt where he won four in a row, including a pair of Group 1 victories in his last two tries on the main track. The 10 furlong trip of the Pacific Classic will also not be a problem, as he has already done well running longer. He is working well at Del Mar and adds Lasix for the first time. If he’s ready, he is dangerous. A very intriguing longshot in here.

Dark Vader

He may be the longest shot in the compact field of six, but the Peter Eurton-trainee is not without hope on Saturday. He’s come close in a couple of good stakes races before and has looked good in his first two races this year, including a front-running allowance victory at Del Mar four weeks ago. He has good tactical speed, but so do Maximum Security and Midcourt making his task that much tougher. Looking for a win is probably a little too tough for him, but he has a chance to hit the board.

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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

Email: [email protected]