Keeneland/Coady Photography

Dullahan's Owner Leans to Pacific Classic

Del Mar's Polytrack appears to be a good fit for Toyota Blue Grass winner.

The $1 million TVG Pacific Classic (gr. I) at Del Mar Aug. 26 could be the next stop for Dullahan, his enthusiastic owner said Aug. 3.

Jerry Crawford, head of the Donegal Racing partnership that owns Dullahan, said the the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) winner and third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), said he's excited by the possibility.

“We’ve had the Pacific Classic circled as a possibility for, literally, since the Triple Crown,” Crawford said during a phone from Saratoga Race Course.

Dullahan, a half-brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, created considerable Kentucky Derby buzz with a 1 ¼-length victory over Hansen in the Blue Grass on Polytrack at Keeneland April 14. Three weeks later came the third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, beaten only 1 ¾ lengths despite a troubled trip.

After skipping the Preakness (gr. I), Dullahan put in a dazzling morning workout in early June at Belmont Park which propelled him to 5-2 favoritism in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). But an inexplicably dull seventh-place finish there was followed by a no-factor fifth of six July 29 in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park.

So maybe it's time for a return to a Polytrack surface similar to that of Keeneland, site of Dullahan’s two career wins, Crawford indicated. The other option is the $1 million Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Aug. 25.

“The track at Saratoga can be a deep surface, like Belmont Park was on the afternoon of the Belmont Stakes,” Crawford said. “Obviously, Dullahan has done well on Polytrack. The issue is whether you run well in the Travers on the one hand, or run well against older horses in the Pacific Classic on the other hand.

“Both of those advance your cause in terms of being 3-year-old of the year, and in terms of stallion value at stud. They were the two logical choices to consider, and, of the two, Del Mar fits us better.”

Trainer Dale Romans’ statement that the Pacific Classic was a possibility, reported by Daily Racing Form Aug. 2, triggered ripples of interest at Del Mar. And while a final decision is several days away, Crawford indicated the likelihood was strong.

“We will make a final decision after he breezes" Aug. 11 or 12, Crawford said. "And as soon as he shows us he’s in fighting form, we’ll be ready to head for Del Mar and try to get there eight or nine days ahead of time.”