Pacific Classic 2023 Analysis & Video

Geaux Rocket Ride wins 2023 Haskell Stakes (Nikki Sherman/Equi-Photo)

By Jarrod Horak

The Grade 1 Pacific Classic will be run at Del Mar on Saturday, September 2. A total of eleven horses will line up in the starting gate and Geaux Rocket Ride is the 5-2 morning line favorite. This race has a good mix of improving sophomores and solid older horses. I will go through the projected race shape and look at the best final time ratings, and my video analysis is included at the bottom of this post.   

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Grade 1 Pacific Classic – September 2 – Race 10 – 1 1/4 miles dirt

1 – Geaux Rocket Ride (5-2)

2 – Katonah (20-1)

3 – Stilleto Boy (8-1)

4 – Tripoli (20-1)

5 – Defunded (4-1)

6 – Order and Law (30-1)

7 – Slow Down Andy (8-1)

8 – Senor Buscador (10-1)

9 – Arabian Knight (3-1)

10 – Piroli (20-1)

11 – Skinner (10-1)

Today’s Racing Digest Pace Ratings – Most Representative Line

Arabian Knight – 161 (Haskell)

Stilleto Boy – 155 (Big ‘Cap)

Geaux Rocket Ride – 150 (Haskell)

Slow Down Andy – 144 (San Diego)

Defunded – 141 (Gold Cup)

Piroli – 140 (Gold Cup)

Katonah – 123 (Pleasanton Mile)

Order and Law – 120 (Cougar II)

Tripoli – 116 (San Diego)

Skinner – 111 (Los Al Derby)

Senor Buscador – 102 (San Diego)

This race is loaded with tactical types but there is only one confirmed front runner. Arabian Knight is the one they will all have to catch if he breaks cleanly. He is just faster than the others in the early going and his new rider Flavien Prat will try to get him to relax on the lead. Stilleto Boy has speed but Kent Desormeaux will probably want to duplicate his winning Big ‘Cap trip. He backed off early and sat two lengths behind that day. Geaux Rocket Ride eased out from the inside post in the Haskell, and he stalked while out in the clear that day. Mike Smith will almost certainly try to do the same thing in this spot. Slow Down Andy has early-pressing versatility. He is more of a miler and Mario Gutierrez will want to save something for the stretch. Defunded can show speed but he is Arabian Knight’s stablemate, and there is no chance that they hook up early. 

Today’s Racing Digest Final Ratings – Most Representative Line

Katonah – 152 (Pleasanton Mile)

Geaux Rocket Ride – 150 (Haskell)

Senor Buscador – 150 (San Diego)

Stilleto Boy – 147 (Big ‘Cap)

Piroli – 147 (Gold Cup)

Slow Down Andy – 146 (San Diego)

Arabian Knight – 141 (Southwest)

Defunded – 141 (Gold Cup)

Order and Law – 141 (Cougar II)

Skinner – 140 (Los Al Derby)

Tripoli – 140 (San Diego)

The key to understanding the Final Time Ratings is to figure out how and why they earned that number, and whether they can duplicate it, or go better or worse under current class conditions. Katonah earned a quality number vs. inferior company in the Pleasanton Mile. He has to prove himself in this longer event against better competition. Geaux Rocket Ride’s Haskell number seems legit. He stalked above par fractions and got the jump on the closers. He is lightly raced and still has upside. Senor Buscador went last-to-first at 1 1/16 miles in the San Diego. It won’t be easy to pass them all at a mile and a quarter. Stilleto Boy is a solid older horse. The classy veteran has earned decent numbers on multiple occasions. Piroli only has one competitive number and that was in the Gold Cup. He was 28-1 and that might be an outlier. Slow Down Andy lost his last four starts and you have to go back to March 2022 to find his last win on dirt (G3 Sunland Derby). However, he is not a one-hit wonder and I like his overall pattern, but the added ground of this race might trip him up. Arabian Knight is all upside with only three career starts. He might be the controlling speed and almost has to be fitter after returning from a 5+ month layoff and running third in the Haskell. The way he stayed on last time after getting passed seems to signal a forward move. Defunded steadily earns numbers in the 140’s in graded dirt routes. Order and Law’s best number was at 1 1/2 miles in the Cougar II. He is not fast enough. Skinner is a sophomore with upside, but what kind of closing trip will he get from post 11? Tripoli won this race in 2021 but has not come close to duplicating that effort in his last dozen starts. The top older horses like Stilleto Boy, Slow Down Andy, and Defunded will probably run their usual numbers in the 140’s. That leaves a trio of sophomores. Geaux Rocket Ride is already faster, and Arabian Knight could easily hit 150+ if he gets out there and controls the pace. Skinner is the other 3-year-old and he needs racing luck and pace help from the far outside post. 

Jarrod’s Pacific Classic Picks (first to last)

1st – Arabian Knight

2nd – Geaux Rocket Ride

3rd – Slow Down Andy

4th – Skinner

5th – Stilleto Boy

6th – Defunded

7th – Katonah

8th – Senor Buscador

9th – Tripoli

10th – Piroli

11th – Order and Law

Jarrod’s Pacific Classic Wagers

#9 to win

Exacta box 1-9

Trifecta 1-9/1-7-9-11/1-7-9-11