As the NFL celebrates its 100 anniversary, the league welcomes the Kansas City Chiefs back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years. The Chiefs, 1.5-point favorites in Super Bowl 54, won Super Bowl 4 23-7 over the Minnesota Vikings as 12-point underdogs. Their opponents, the San Francisco 49ers have won five of six Super Bowl appearances but none since a 1995 victory in Super Bowl 29.
2017 Pacific Classic Picks
Pacific Classic Preview and Odds
There's a glimmer of hope for the connections of other top horses racing in the US, as his fourth-place showing in last month's (G2) San Diego Handicap gave an indication that Arrogate can be beaten. After reeling off seven straight wins, including the 2016 BC Classic, Arrogate (at 1-1 odds in the Pacific Classic morning line) went off in the San Diego at odds of 1-9 and simply came up flat. He broke out of the gate last, made a move to get by one rival and then did not fire any kind of kick in the final stretch, with jockey Mike Smith deciding not to even push the matter in the final furlongs when the race was obviously lost.
With trainer Bob Baffert being clear there's nothing physically wrong with Arrogate, he was left scratching his head over the performance as much as anyone else. It could be that after racing overseas in Dubai, Arrogate simply needed to shake off the rust of travelling. Or it could be that he doesn't handle the Del Mar dirt as well as he seems to handle every other track surface he's raced on. Either way, he's proven over the past year to be one of the best horses in the world, and it's easy to draw a line through the San Diego and expect him to bounce back here.
As much as Arrogate's performance in the San Diego was disappointing, the run by Accelerate (3-1) was eye-catching. Breaking from the inside of the five-horse field, he moved quickly to establish the lead, held his spot setting an honest pace while being challenged on the backstretch, and then true to his name hit the gas at the top of the stretch and pulled away, winning by 8 1/2 lengths.
While the margin of victory could ultimately be put on the relative weakness of the rest of the field, the kind of early speed he displayed in that race could serve him well once again here. The San Diego was his sixth graded-stakes start and he's finished in the money in all of them, with two wins.
Collected an Easy Winner in Last Race
Breaking from just inside of Accelerate in gate #2, Collected (5-2) is actually second choice in the ML. A winner of seven of 10 lifetime, including all of his last three starts, he appeared headed for big things last season until running a very poor tenth in the 2016 Preakness Stakes. He was shut down after that one, but has done nothing wrong so far in 2017. He simply dominated in his last race in the (G3) Precisionist Stakes at Santa Anita, cruising to a 14-length win in a field that included Accelerate and Donworth (15-1) who will also be in the Pacific Classic field.
He has excellent tactical speed to get in position to stalk just off the leader before making his move as they turn for home. You can expect him to do much the same here, with Accelerate being the only real speed in the race (depending on what Smith decides to do with Arrogate).
The rest of the field are in double-digit odds, and it's difficult to see any of them having a major impact against the top three. Hard Aces (20-1) is a veteran seven-year-old who has run this race twice before with little to show for it, although he does have a handful of top-three finishes at the graded-stakes level. The 1 1/4 miles will actually be a reduction in distance from what he usually runs.
Sorry Erik (30-1) is a late runner who at three already has 13 starts to his name, with three wins in seven attempts in 2017. He was third two back in the (G3) Ohio Derby, and while he seems overmatched here, he could get up for a minor reward if any of the top contenders falter late.
The Pacific Classic goes Saturday, August 19 from Del Mar Race Track in San Diego, with an expected post time of 5:30 PM Pacific. You can bet the full day of Del Mar's race card through the Today's Tracks link at most of our recommended online racebooks.
Pacific Classic Entries w/ ML Odds
- Royal Albert Hall (30-1)
- Collected (5-2)
- Accelerate (3-1)
- Sorry Erik (30-1)
- Hard Aces (20-1)
- Donworth (15-1)
- Curlin Road (20-1)
- Arrogate (1-1)
Pacific Classic Picks
- #1 - Arrogate
- #2 - Collected
- #3 - Accelerate
- #4 - Sorry Erik
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