Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella’s carefully chosen word for the status of Beholder regarding a title defense in the $ 1 million TVG Pacific Classic is “probable.”
He used it Wednesday afternoon, hours after the 6-year-old mare worked a bullet five furlongs in :59 flat, and repeated it Thursday morning. The race is still nine days away (Saturday, August 20), but the greatly anticipated matchup between Beholder and California Chrome appears to be moving ever closer to reality.
The deadline for nominations to the signature event of the summer meeting is midnight tonight. Beholder and California Chrome are among nine that had nomination paperwork submitted Thursday morning with several others expected through the course of the day.
On the early list were: Beholder, California Chrome, Dalmore, El Huerfano, Firing Line, Hard Aces, Imperative, Mubtaahij and War Story. Of that group Beholder, California Chrome, Dalmer, Hard Aces and War Story merit the “probable” tag.
Dortmund, a narrow runner-up to California Chrome in the hard-fought San Diego Handicap on July 23, and Hoppertunity, both from the stable of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, are also expected to be nominated and run. Trainer George Papaprodromou has Win the Space, third in the San Diego, targeting the Classic as well.
The others are “possible” at best.
Firing Line, the 2015 Kentucky Derby runner-up was a disappointment in a comeback race from a 15-month layoff on July 9 at Santa Anita but has been training forwardly in three subsequent works here.
Imperative has losses to Beholder, California Chrome and Dortmund in 32 career starts, the last 20 of them at the graded stakes level. The six-year-old son of Bernardini hasn’t raced since a fifth behind Melatonin in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita but has four works here. A placing of fourth or better in the Classic would put Imperative over the $ 2 million mark in career earnings.
Mubtaahij, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin and based at Belmont Park in New York, was second to California Chrome in the $ 10 million Dubai World Cup and, in his comeback from that effort, finished third to Effinex in the Suburban Handicap on July 9.
El Huerfano, a 4-year-old California-bred son of Tannersmyman, was distanced in the Grade II Californian at Santa Anita and third , beaten eight lengths by Soi Phet in the McCann’s Mojave overnight stakes there on June 26.
The TVG Pacific Classic is projected to be the ninth on an 11-race card on August 20 with post time between 6:05 and 6:10 p.m.
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