2021 Pacific Classic (Del Mar) Predictions, Odds, Top Picks

Pacific Classic Del Mar 2021 Predictions

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Tripoli (5/1)

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Post Position and Odds Pacific Classic

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

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
T J Pereira J Sadler
F Prat R Mandella
3 DR POST 4/1
J Rosario T Pletcher
M Smith R Mandella
J J Hernandez J Shirreffs
A Cedillo B Baffert
F Geroux M McCarthy
E Maldonado T Fincher
U Rispoli C Dollase

Topped by the morning line favorite Express Train, a competitive field of nine older males are set to fight it out for the top prize in Saturday’s $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

Express Train comes into Saturday’s 10-furlong test off a win in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap on opening weekend of the meet. Trained by John Shirreffs, the 4-year-old son of Union Rags has three wins and a second from four lifetime starts at Del Mar. Four of the horses he beat last time are back to try him again in the Pacific Classic

Tripoli, who rallied strongly for second in the San Diego in only his second career start on the main track, and the graded stakes-winning Brazilian-bred Royal Ship, who was third as the favorite, are also back to take another shot at the morning line favorite.

Dr. Post, invading from the East Coast for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, should also attract plenty of betting support. Twice a winner of Grade 3 stakes this year, the son of Quality Road finished second behind Tiz the Law in last year’s Grade 1 Belmont Stakes

The Grade 1 Pacific Classic is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, to be held on the same track on November 6.

Best Bets for the Pacific Classic Top Picks

Here are my plays ($60 in total)

$10 Exacta Box – Tripoli and Dr Post = $20

$10 Exacta Part Wheel – Tripoli and Dr Post over Express Train and Tizamagician = $40

If you’re playing only to win, go with my top pick Tripoli (5/1).

Bet on the Pacific Classic Here

How to Watch the Pacific Classic

Pacific Classic Race Information
What Pacific Classic (Grade 1)
Location Del Mar
Time Saturday, August 21 — 9:30 pm Eastern time
How to Watch TVG
Purse $1,000,000

Race Analysis

Express Train

The winner of the Grade 2 San Diego last time, this son of Union Rags has put together a very good record at Del Mar dating back to 2019. Perhaps a little too far back early when third in the Hollywood Gold Cup two starts back, he seemed to appreciate the return to his favorite track. The Pacific Classic does present the challenge of distance, though, as he is previously 0-for-2 at the 10-furlong trip. Having said that, he was a good second in the Grade 1 Big Cap in March, giving up that lead late. He is a deserving favorite, but he will need to prove that he can beat strong horses at the classic distance.

Royal Ship

The beaten choice in the San Diego, this one was a major force on the turf in his native Brazil before coming to the U.S. He has only won once in seven starts in America for trainer Richard Mandella, but has turned in solid performances against good competition in his last three starts on the main track. Narrowly beaten in the 10 furlong Hollywood Gold Cup two starts back, he gamely won the Grade 2 Californian before that. Last time, though, he was only third best behind Express Train and Tripoli. He is certainly a threat in here, but his two efforts at Del Mar leave me liking a few others better.

Dr Post

Making his first start on the West Coast, this 4-year-old son of Quality Road will be in search of his first Grade 1 victory. He’s tried three times before, including a second-place finish in last year’s Belmont Stakes, but has yet to get the job done. The addition of blinkers last time seemed to help, as he turned in a solid performance to win the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup at 9 furlongs. We should see his best now with three races under his belt as an older horse. Rosario coming out to ride is a plus, as he runs a furlong farther than he ever has before. This seems like a good spot for him to prove that he is a Grade 1 horse. He has a big shot to win the Pacific Classic.


This son of Tiznow has proven himself as one of the top dirt horses in the country at 12 furlongs. Those races generally do not attract America’s best, though, and at shorter distances he has yet to break though. Still there are things to like on Saturday, including a recent win over the track and having the meet’s top rider, Flavien Prat in the saddle. He has been a consistent type throughout his career, but it’s hard to ignore his two clear cut losses to Express Train earlier this year. He’s in with a chance here, but I prefer a few others.


Trained by John Sadler, this 4-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy made his first 11 starts on the turf, where he was a consistent enough grass horse, but nothing special. Since transitioning to dirt two starts back, he won a sharp allowance race before running a very good second in the San Diego. Although he has never been the distance before, his pedigree says he should handle the 10 furlongs just fine. A winner of only 3-of-13 lifetime, he will need to prove that he can get to the winner’s circle against good horses, but his career certainly seems to be on an upturn with the switch to dirt. In a wide-open affair, he will be my top pick.

Independence Hall

Once very highly regarded, this son of Constitution has flashed talent from time to time in his career, but has been unable to win a stakes race since January 1, 2020. In two previous tries in Southern California, he ran decently to finish fourth in the Big Cap and then faded to be a well beaten third behind Royal Ship as the favorite in the Grade 2 Californian. Freshened since that April defeat, he has been working well for his return. He won his only start previously at Del Mar, but that came in an allowance sprint. He is dangerous at his best, but at 5/1 on the morning line, the value is just not there for me. I am looking elsewhere.

Cupid’s Claws

Claimed several times last year, this 6-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy was able to step up and run a big one while winning last fall’s Grade 3 Tokyo City. He has lost in his four races since and did not seriously threaten Tizamagican last time when second in the Cougar. Perhaps he is slowly rounding into form for trainer Craig Dollase, and is a long shot worth considering, but given his overall level of class, I like too many others better on Saturday.

Magic on Tap

This Bob Baffert trainee was able to win a graded stakes race two starts back, but that came going just 7 furlongs in a not particularly strong edition of the Triple Bend. In his two tries going two-turns against graded stakes company, he didn’t do much. Still lightly raced after coming back from a long layoff earlier this year, he does have some talent, but at a mile and a quarter, this is not the afternoon where I expect him to make serious noise.

Sheriff Brown

A 5-year-old son of Curlin, this gelding came to California from Texas for his last race and was never involved in the San Diego. He ultimately passed one horse to finish seventh at odds of 52/1. His lone stakes win came in a minor race at Sunland Park last year. Once again, he looks to be a big long shot who I find very hard to recommend.

Best Odds for the Pacific Classic Here!

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Brian Zipse

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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.

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