Twirling Candy and jockey Joel Rosario hit the home stratch during a victory… (Benoit Photo )
The richest day of the prestigious annual Del Mar thoroughbred meeting will take place Sunday, and it will feature three races totaling $1.45 million in purses, led by the $1-million TVG Pacific Classic.
The Classic will go off as the ninth race on an 11-race card. It will be preceded by the $200,000 Del Mar Handicap, the third race of the day, and the $250,000 Pat O'Brien Stakes, the fifth race of the day. The Classic is run over 11/4 miles on the main synthetic track; the Handicap 13/8 miles on the turf and the Pat O'Brien seven furlongs on the main track. All are for horses, any gender, 3 years old and up.
The normal post time of 2 p.m. has been moved to 1 p.m.
The betting favorite in the Classic, according to the morning line, is trainer John Sadler's Twirling Candy, at 5-2.
Sadler's horse was disappointing in the first two of the three annual top Southern California races for older horses. In the Santa Anita Handicap, he was involved in a bumping at the head of the home stretch while appearing to tire. That race was won by Bob Baffert's Game On Dude, who is also entered in the Classic and will start directly to the left of Twirling Candy, who will be ninth from the rail.
In the Hollywood Gold Cup at Hollywood Park, Twirling Candy got his nose in front of Game On Dude in the stretch run, but Game On Dude came back to take second and the Baffert stablemate First Dude beat them both. Game On Dude is the early second betting choice in the Classic at 3-1. First Dude is not entered.
Also notable in the Classic is Acclamation, winner of the $300,000 Eddie Read on July 23 at Del Mar and starting from the No. 5 post position. Acclamation's morning line odds are 5-1.
Baffert's Richard's Kid won the last two Classics, both times under rides by Mike Smith. This year, Smith will ride 20-1 shot Stately Victor.