Wild card lurks over Del Mar’s Pacific Classic

The field for Saturday’s 31st running of the Pacific Classic came into sharper focus Sunday with a wild card entering the deck.

Rock Your World worked 6 furlongs out of the starting gate in 1 minute, 12.60 seconds with jockey Umberto Rispoli in the saddle.

Before the start of Del Mar’s summer meeting, trainer John Sadler said Rock Your World was being pointed toward the Sept. 4 Del Mar Derby and remained non-committal about a switch in plans after nominating Rock Your World for the Pacific Classic earlier this week.

But Sunday morning’s workout and the overall strength of the $1 million Pacific Classic Field might have Sadler reconsidering.

“Right now, the plans remain the same, Tripoli’s my horse in the Pacific Classic,” Sadler said via cellphone Sunday afternoon while returning to Del Mar from a wedding. “But, I’ll talk to (assistant trainer) Juan (Leyva) and Umberto (this) morning.”

Earlier Sunday, Leyva old Del Mar officials that Rock Your World’s workout “went very well, we were all very happy with it,” said Leyva. “At this point (the next race) is still undecided. I’m sure John will come back (today), make sure everything is all right with the horse and probably decide then.”

The post position draw for the $1 million Pacific Classic — the premier attraction of Del Mar’s summer season — will be Tuesday afternoon.

At the moment, racing secretary David Jerkens has strong Pacific Classic commitments from the trainers and owners of eight horses — Cupid’s Claws, Dr. Post, Express Train, Magic On Tap, Royal Ship, Sheriff Brown, Tizamagician and Tripoli.

Rock Your World, who has worked each of the past five Sunday mornings at Del Mar, would bolster the field.

The 3-year-old son of Candy Ride won the Grade I Santa Anita Derby by 4¼ lengths under Rispoli on April 3. That was Rock Your World’s third win in as many career starts. The colt then shipped east and finished 17th in the Kentucky Derby and sixth in the Belmont Stakes under Joel Rosario.

Six Pacific Classic nominees saw their commitments of running Saturday strengthened off workouts over the weekend.

John Shirreffs had both Express Train (1:12.20 under Juan Hernandez) and Midcourt (1:14.60 under Edwin Maldonado) work 6 furlongs Sunday morning and said he was “leaning” toward running only San Diego Handicap winner Express Train in the Pacific Classic.

Bob Baffert committed Magic On Tap to the Pacific Classic after working 5 furlongs in 59 seconds Saturday.

Tizamagician, winner of the Grade III Cougar II Stakes at Del Mar, on July 17, got the Pacific Classic go-ahead from Richard Mandella after working 5 furlongs in one minute even. Cupid’s Claws, who was second in the Cougar II, turned in the same time Saturday.

And at Saratoga, trainer Todd Pletcher said Dr. Post would fly west Tuesday after working 4 furlongs in :49.22.

Sheriff Brown, who ran seventh in the July 17 San Diego Handicap, also earned a Pacific Classic commitment from trainer Todd Fincher.

Pulpit repeats

Pulpit Rider became the second repeat winner of a Del Mar stakes race this summer when the 6-year-old daughter of Lucky Pulpit was rallied between horses by jockey Flavien Prat in the stretch to finish a nose ahead of Nardini in the $150,000 Solana Beach Stakes for older California-bred or sired fillies and mares.

Pulpit Rider, down eight lengths early in the one-mile turf race, was still last in the field of six just before the stretch.

“I rode her with a lot of confidence because Mike (Puype, trainer) gave me that confidence,” said Prat. “He said she was ready and to ride her that way.”

“I’d like to think she could run in this next year,” said Puype.

“She’s sound and not showing she’s nearing retirement. She gives a good account of herself every time. And it was a great ride by Flavien.”

Pulpit Rider paid $16.60 to win. Favored Warren’s Showtime finished third.

Earlier in the meeting, United won the Eddie Read Stakes for a second straight year.

Prat suspended

Prat returned from Arlington Park on Sunday to learn he had drawn a three-day suspension for an incident in last Thursday’s fifth race, resulting in the disqualification of Next Revolt from the win.

Prat was set down for interference.

Prat is scheduled to serve the suspension next Friday to Sunday.

But due to California’s “designated race rule” Prat would be allowed to ride in the seven graded stakes races over the three days.

He is scheduled to ride Tizamagician in the Pacific Classic.

Prat earlier drew a five-day suspension after being disqualified from victory in the Haskell at Monmouth Park.

That suspension is scheduled to begin Sept. 7 after the close of Del Mar.

Meantime, Abel Cedillo won four races Sunday to move into a tie for second with Hernandez in the jockey standings with 21 wins — five behind Prat, who won two races Sunday.


There were 12 horses scratched from Sunday’s nine-race program.

Several barns reported a sick horse, but there was no central reason given for the high number of declcarations.

Racing resumes on Thursday. First post 2 p.m.

Center is a freelance writer