Released Aug. 10 the list of nominees includes six 3-year-olds. Under weight-for-age conditions for the Pacific Classic, older horses carry 124 pounds, with the 3-year-olds toting 117.
Considered solid for the race are trainer Doug O’Neill’s defending champion Lava Man, who also has won two straight Santa Anita Handicaps and three straight Hollywood Gold Cups; A.P. Xcellent, Arson Squad, Awesome Gem, Big Booster, Hello Sunday, Molengao, Porfido, Salty Humor and Sun Boat, and the 3-year-olds Tiago, Albertus Maximus and Time Squared.
Entries for the race will be taken the morning of Aug. 15, with the post-position draw scheduled for Wednesday evening during a dinner at The Lodge at Torrey Pines. The field will be restricted to 14 horses, with no also-eligible list, said Tom Robbins, racing secretary of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.
The race is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge’s “Win and You’re In" classic division, meaning the winner gets an automatic entry into the 2007 running of the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I).
Three-year-olds nominated are: Tiago and Albertus Maximus, winner and runner-up in the Swaps Stakes (gr. II) for John Shirreffs and Gary Mandella, respectively; Bwana Bull, a hard-trying second to Zanjero in the West Virginia Derby (gr. III) for Jerry Hollendorfer; Time Squared, second for trainer Patrick Biancone in Arlington Park’s Round Table Stakes; Try to Fly, winner of Santa Anita’s San Pedro Stakes who is considered unlikely to run by trainer O’Neill, and the maiden Senior, trained by Laura Wohlers.
Considered possible is Fitz Flag, winless in 2007 but second in Hollywood Park’s Sunset Handicap (gr. IIT) in his most recent start.
On entry day, preference is given to horses with the most graded or group stakes earnings in 2007, with second preference going to total earnings from graded or group races since July 2006.
Trainers Shirreffs, Mike Mitchell, Bobby Frankel and O’Neill each have nominated two for the race. Out-of-town horses that have been nominated include Lewis Michael, trained by Wayne Catalano; Marsh Side (Michael Dickinson); and Student Council (Neil J. Howard).
Lava Man will have a public workout Saturday afternoon before Del Mar’s first race when he will go six furlongs under regular exercise rider Tony Romero.