Go Between, racing in sixth on the outside, moved up coming off the far turn under a drive by Gomez and caught Well Armed and jockey Aaron Gryder inside the sixteenth pole to produce a well-timed victory. Well Armed had opened up a daylight lead in the lane after surging past the pacesetter Barcola but came up just a tad short in a determined effort in the 1 1/4-mile test, the biggest jewel of the annual Del Mar meet.
Go Between earns a berth in the $5-million Breeders' Cup Classic Oct. 25 at Santa Anita with his victory in the Pacific Classic, a "Win and You're In" challenge race. Bill Mott trains Peter Vegso's Florida homebred 5-year-old son of Point Given, who is emerging as a star since being switched to synthetic surfaces this year.
Mott was running a horse in the Pacific Classic for the first time since 1996 when Cigar, seeking a 17th consecutive win to break the record of the great Citation, was upset by Dare and Go.
"He has a running style that is good for this distance and Garrett fits him so well," said Kenny McCarthy, Mott's assistant. "They're a great team. I don't think he was too far back at any time. Maybe the early fractions were a little softer than we anticipated, but they went a good half after that and I think Garrett always had them in his sights."
A turf horse for most of his career, Go Between has become a force on the synthetic track, the surface that will be used for the first time in the Breeders' Cup Classic this year. Go Between won the Sunshine Millions Classic at Santa Anita and finished second in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) this year (behind the retired Heatseeker) and was most recently the runner-up to Mast Track in the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) on Cushion Track.
Mast Track finished third in the Pacific Classic.
At some point, Gomez will have to make a decision between Colonel John and Go Between, assuming both make it to the Classic, but he was making no commitments yet. He told an ESPN audience, "The Breeders' Cup is a ways off yet." He then added, "They're both talented Individuals. They both ran tremendous races for me."
It was quite a weekend for Gomez, who leads the nation in jockey purse earnings. in the race preceding the Pacific Classic, he guided Whatsthescript to victory in the $328,000 Del Mar Mile Handicap (gr. IIT).
Gomez said he was following the defending Pacific Classic champion Student Council as he was parked on the outside of traffic while closer to the leaders than usual for much of the journey. But when he sensed the pace was not to Go Between's liking, he made his move on the final turn. Meantime, Well Armed, who had been racing in second or third for Gryder behind the pacesetting Barcola while even with Surf Cat, decided to take control in upper stretch. He appeared to have things his own way after getting the measure of his pace rivals and holding Mast Track at bay, but he could not shake the winner.
"I was really pleased with my position. I was back there, but I was only seven or eight (lengths) off them," Gomez said. "The only time I had to make a decision was at the (nine-sixteenths pole). I had to decide whether to wait and make that late run or go around and go for it right then and there. I decided to go for it and it worked. It sure helps when you have a horse like him."
Fractions were solid for the distance—:23.40 for the opening quarter-mile, :47.36 for the half, and 1:12.20 for six furlongs. The final time, 2:01.18, was a track record, taking about six seconds off the clocking turned in by Student Council last year on a much slower Polytrack surface.
Well Armed finished 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Mast Track, who was ridden by Rafael Bejarano. Then came Zappa, Student Council, Surf Cat, Awesome Gem, Mostacolli Mort, Delosvientos, and Barcola.
Go Between notched his eighth lifetime win in 26 starts while boosting his earnings to $2,783,880 with the winner's share of $600,000. He has three wins and three seconds in six starts on synthetic tracks.
Out of the Irish-bred mare Mediation, by Caerleon, Go Between paid $7.60, $4.20, and $3, topping a $2 exacta worth $68.60 with WinStar Farms' Well Armed, who was coming off a win in the San Diego Handicap (gr. II) for trainer Eoin Harty, who won the Travers for WinStar with Colonel John. Well Armed returned $7.60 and $5.60. Mast Track, bred, owned, and trained by Bobby Frankel, was $5.80 to show.
Gryder said the runner-up ran a valiant race and proved he was more than a one-dimensional front-runner.
"I put him right where it was best and he ran a super race," he said.
McCann's Mojave scratched due to an injury. The 10 horses competed at equal weights of 124 pounds.
View Stakes Detail and Full Equibase Chart