"(Bailey's won) about five or six Eclipse Awards and I'm not a smart guy, but I can figure that out," Hall of Fame conditioner Richard Mandella joked, referring to Bailey's substitution for the injured jockey Alex Solis.
Millionaire Pleasantly Perfect finished second to former claimer and fellow Pacific Classic hopeful Choctaw Nation at odds of 3-5 in the Aug. 1 San Diego Handicap (gr. II) after a four-month break following his three-length score in the $6 million Dubai World Cup (gr. I) at Nad al Sheba on March 26.
"He was a little fresh and shortening up," Mandella said of Pleasantly Perfect's defeat, his first since April, 2003.
Midwest invader Perfect Drift, who will carry Pat Day to the gate on Sunday from post position four, was made the morning line maker's second choice at odds of 7-2 following his narrow defeat in the Whitney Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga less than two weeks ago.
"He's a racehorse," trainer Murray Johnson said. "And that's what we're (in California) to do. We've had some tough (luck) this year, but we think he's back to his best."
Bob Bone's Choctaw Nation, 9-2 on the morning line, picked up 10 pounds off his stunning upset of Pleasantly Perfect in the San Diego Handicap and will break from the three hole. The 4-year-old has yet to lose in five career starts, but will face his stiffest challenge so far in the Pacific Classic.
"The best horse doesn't always win and we're kind of hoping for that," trainer Jeff Mullins said. "But he's a nice horse – they all are – and we're honored to be here."
The field for the Pacific Classic, in post position order with riders and weights, will be:
1. El Elogiado, Kent Desormeaux, 30-1
2. Colonial Colony, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1
3. Choctaw Nation, Victor Espinoza, 9-2
4. Perfect Drift, Pat Day, 7-2
5. Pleasantly Perfect, Jerry Bailey, 6-5
6. Total Impact, Mike Smith, 6-1
7. Night Patrol, Tyler Baze, 20-1
8. During, Corey Nakatani, 12-1
All runners will carry 124 pounds under the Pacific Classic's weight-for-age conditions.
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