Image for Brian Zipse Brian Zipse - October 14, 2022

Pacific Classic: Express Train Returns to a Track Where He Has Won 3-Of-5 Overall

Pacific Classic Odds and Post Position

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2022 Pacific Classic at Del Mar!

PP Horse TwinSpires Odds Jockey Trainer
1 EXTRA HOPE 30/1
BET HERE
T Baze R Mandella
2 COUNTRY GRAMMER 4/1
BET HERE
J Velazquez B Baffert
3 ROYAL SHIP 8/1
BET HERE
M Smith R Mandella
4 EXPRESS TRAIN 12/1
BET HERE
V Espinoza J Shirreffs
5 FLIGHTLINE 1/5
BET HERE
F Prat J Sadler
6 STILLETO BOY 20/1
BET HERE
J J Hernandez E Moger

Pacific Classic Predictions and Best Bets

Here are my plays ($55 in total)

$10 Trifecta Part Wheel – Flightline over Express Train over Country Grammer and Royal Ship  = $20

$10 Trifecta Part Wheel – Flightline over Country Grammer and Royal Ship over Express Train  = $20

$5 Win, Place & Show – Express Train  = $15

If you’re playing only to win, go with my upset pick Express Train (12/1).

Pick made on 08/31/2022 at 06:57 AM EST

Take a look at our Horse Racing Calculator and ensure your bets!

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Pacific Classic  Predictions Victor Espinoza Express Train

Unbeaten and untested, Flightline has been made a prohibitive 1/5 morning line favorite over five others in Saturday’s $1-million TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

A 4-year-old son of Tapit, the John Sadler-trainee has won each of his four career starts with ease, including a pair of Grade 1 scores in his last two. In his only start so far this year, Flightline overcame early trouble to cruise in the Met Mile at Belmont Park.

On Saturday, he will be tested for the first time at two turns in the 10-furlong Pacific Classic. To be ridden by regular rider Flavien Prat, his longest previous race was one mile.

Chief among the big favorite’s opponents will be the Bob Baffert-trained Country Grammer. The winner of the $12 million Dubai World Cup back in March, he was second in his first race back in the U.S, which came in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap.

A 5-year-old son of Tonalist, he is a graded stakes winner in each of the last three seasons, including a victory in last year’s Grade 1 Gold Cup. Before winning in Dubai, he was a very good second in the $20 million Saudi Cup in February.

Royal Ship, who defeated Country Grammer last month at Del Mar in the San Diego, is the morning line third choice. Bred in Brazil, the 6-year-old gelding is one of two from the barn of Richard Mandella and has won two of three in 2022.

The Grade 1 Pacific Classic is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race and will offer the winner automatic entry into the $6-million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland on November 5.

Pacific Classic Predictions and Race Analysis

Flightline

It’s time to find out whether the horse who has been so impressive going one turn in his first four starts can be as good running the classic distance of 10 furlongs. Other than missed time here and there, he couldn’t possibly look any better to this point in his career.

A son of Tapit, trained by John Sadler, he has backed up his four scintillating victories by continuing to look like a champion in morning workouts. With the speed to control the race from the outset, the race looks to set up well for him. It’s just a matter of how far he wants to go.

A special looking talent, he is certainly the most likely winner of the Pacific Classic, but he offers no value whatsoever at 1/5 on the morning line. I will look for value below him and take a small chance on beating him, as well.

Country Grammer

Trained by Bob Baffert, this son of Tonalist was a Grade 1 winner last year and looked like one of the best dirt horses in the world with big efforts in rich races in Saudi Arabia and Dubai early on in 2022. Given four months off his successful trip overseas, he returned to be runner-up in the San Diego.

While it wasn’t his best, it was good enough to believe that he will improve on Saturday. His win in the Dubai World Cup two races back was his best race yet and further proof that he likes the classic distance of 10 furlongs.

While the big favorite is a question mark at the distance, this one is a proven commodity. He is a deserving second choice on Saturday and if Flightline falters, he figures to be in with a big chance.

Royal Ship

This 6-year-old Brazilian-bred ran a big race over the track five weeks ago to decisively defeat Country Grammer. The pair actually have a budding rivalry and it is Royal Ship that has come out on top in two of their previous three meetings.

On the negative side, Country Grammer did win their one meeting at 10 furlongs and this Richard Mandella-trained runner has not looked as good in his other efforts at 1 1/4-miles, including last year’s Pacific Classic.

Still the win over the track in the San Diego was impressive enough to at least consider him, and at his best, he deserves respect.

Express Train

This son of Union Rags was on a roll this winter with three consecutive graded stakes wins which concluded with a victory in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in March. His winning streak ended when he was unable to ever get to Stilleto Boy in the Californian.

Freshened since, he returns to a track where he has won 3-of-5 overall, including last season’s San Diego. He was actually favored in this race last year, but threw in an uncharacteristically poor performance.

Off the four-month layoff into this year’s edition, I expect veteran trainer John Shirreffs to have him fit and ready. At double digits on the morning line this time, I look for a bounce-back effort from last year’s disappointment. He will be my value play.

Stilleto Boy

This gelded son of Shackleford is a very good check-casher. He’s only been able to find the winner’s circle three times in 17 career races, but has still been able to break $1 million in earnings by usually hitting the board in strong races.

He’s quite eligible to do it again on Saturday, but he will need to improve upon his most recent effort when a well beaten third at Del Mar in the San Diego. A front-running winner of the Grade 2 Californian two starts back, it’s hard to see him ever sniffing the lead here with Flightline in the race.

I wouldn’t argue with anyone who wanted to include him in the exotics at big odds, but I only like fifth best here.

Extra Hope

The second from the barn of Richard Mandella, this 6-year-old son of Shanghai Bobby looks to be the rank outsider in the field of six. He is a graded stakes winner, but that Grade 3 victory came nearly two years ago.

Winless the last two seasons, he was well beaten by Royal Ship three starts back. His last two were a bit better, but still he was unable to seriously threaten for the winner against lesser. I find him hard to recommend in this spot.

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How to Watch the Pacific Classic

What Pacific Classic (Grade 1)
Location Del Mar
Time Saturday, September 3 — 9:37pm Eastern time
How to Watch TVG
Purse $1,000,000
Image for Brian Zipse

AUTHOR

Brian Zipse

219 Articles

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]

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