DEL MAR — Two wasn't enough for Wayne Lukas in Saturday's $1-million Pacific Classic.
Represented by Farma Way and Twilight Agenda in the richest race in Del Mar history and the eighth stop on the American Championship Racing Series tour, Lukas had to settle for second and fifth money.
The trainer--and almost everyone else in attendance--thought he was going to do better than that with less than an eighth of a mile to run in the 1 1/4 mile race.
After putting away Farma Way, his stablemate and the 3-2 favorite, approaching the stretch, Twilight Agenda had drawn clear and his margin was 2 1/2 lengths with a furlong to run.
Only Best Pal didn't cooperate. The only 3-year-old in the field, who received an eight-pound weight allowance (116-124) from the seven other entrants, caught Twilight Agenda and won by a length.
"I thought our horses ran well," Lukas said. "The track hasn't been playing too kindly to front-runners today, so that probably didn't help us any. But this is the track they all ran over.
"I thought Twilight Agenda ran exceptionally well. We were the natural ones to have the lead. For us to take back with that field of horses, we'd had to have changed our styles considerably.
"Twilight Agenda was right where I thought he should be. Farma Way was going easy on the lead. I'm disappointed we didn't win, but that's the series. We've danced a lot of dances and we'll be back."
Lukas' analysis of the track bias wasn't totally correct. Silverlake Star did rally from off the pace to win the first race, but Spell Victorious, in the race before the Classic, won virtually wire to wire.
"With the eight-pound spread and the fact he likes the track, I thought (Best Pal) was a contender," Lukas said. "I thought everybody except one horse (Stalwart Charger) had a legitimate shot.
"It just wasn't Farma Way's day or his track. He went pretty fast fractions. I would have liked the 1:09 4/5 (for six furlongs) to have been about 1:10 3/5. But he'd been off (since the Hollywood Gold Cup June 24) and he might have needed this one."
Winless in two tries on Farma Way since replacing Gary Stevens, Chris McCarron couldn't offer any excuses for the one-time front-runner for horse of the year.
"Wayne just didn't want us (Farma Way and Twilight Agenda) to go head-and-head," McCarron said. "My horse broke well and I couldn't have asked for an easier lead. The fractions were fast, but he was just loafing along. He was going very easy down the backside. I can't find any excuses for him."
As did Lukas, Kent Desormeaux thought he was on his way to his biggest victory.
"He was running today," he said after his first race aboard Twilight Agenda. "I thought I had it won and then here came Patrick flying. I finally got him to switch leads today. He switched at the head of the stretch and kicked it in. I don't have any complaints. He gave it to me today."
Eddie Delahoussaye couldn't say the same about Festin. The series leader with 37 points going into the Pacific Classic, the Argentine rallied for fourth after being far back--even for him--down the backstretch.
"He didn't run a jump," Delahoussaye said. "He didn't fire at all. He ran well here last year, but the track's a little different now. The track is softer and little loose for him.
"He made a run, but not the kind of run he usually does. When (Unbridled) left him, I didn't think he was going to run at all."
Festin might also be feeling the effects of a rigorous 1991. He has racked up more miles than any horse in the country, having competed in California, New York, Maryland, Arkansas and New Hampshire.
Seeking his seventh consecutive victory on the turf, Tight Spot is the 7-5 favorite in today's $323,500 Eddie Read Handicap at 1 1/8 miles.
Successful in an allowance race and the Inglewood and American handicaps at Hollywood Park, Tight Spot will carry 125 pounds against six opponents in the Grade I event.
Laffit Pincay Jr. will again ride the 4-year-old His Majesty colt, who won the La Jolla Handicap and Del Mar Derby locally last year.
Algenib is the 9-5 second choice on the strength of an impressive allowance victory July 13 at Hollywood Park and a glossy record in South America. Corey Nakatani will ride for trainer Wally Dollase and Algenib will carry 120 pounds.
The other entries are Val Des Bois, Reinstate, Madjaristan, Raj Waki and Great Commotion.
Flawlessy became the 3-year-old filly to beat in the Del Mar Oaks with a comfortable victory in Saturday's $109,600 San Clemente Stakes.
Perfect in three starts on the turf, the daughter of Affirmed overcame some bumping on the first turn to win by nearly two lengths over 15-1 shot Gold Fleece in 1:34 4/5 for the mile.
The 3-2 choice Saturday, Flawlessly will probably be an even stronger favorite in the $175,000 Oaks, which will be run at 1 1/8 miles Aug. 25.
"This filly is well named," said McCarron, who had three winners Saturday. "She won flawlessly today. She was just floating over the grass and pulled me to the lead. I had to keep after her in the stretch because she wants to look around and not keep her mind on business."
Owned by Harbor View Farm and trained by Charlie Whittingham, Flawlessly spent a good deal of her 2-year-old season chasing Meadow Star. She was fourth to the Eclipse Award winner in a maiden race, third in the Frizette and seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Although she has two victories on the main track, she is much better on grass.
Gold Fleece was a little more than two lengths better than Miss High Blade, then came Joli's Princess, the 5-2 second choice, Interclear, Sprucory, Sheer Quality, Magic Sister and Paris In Spring.