Lava Man Tops 11 Nominated for Pacific Classic

(from Del Mar notes)
Eleven horses have been nominated to Del Mar's $1 million Pacific Classic (gr. I) at 1 1/4 miles on Aug. 20.

Lava Man, winner of the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) and Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) for trainer Doug O'Neill, is the probable favorite.

Multiple grade I winner Lava Man, undefeated in five starts this year, is the first horse in the 15-year history of the Pacific Classic to have the chance to sweep the "Big Three" of Southern California racing in the same year. The 5-year-old son of Slew City Slew has been not only consistent but flexible as well, with two of his five wins this year coming on the turf.

Nine of the nominees have already committed to the Pacific Classic, and the two surprise candidates – Texcess and That's an Outrage – probably will not go to the gate.

Actually, trainer Mike Mitchell left no doubt when asked about the prospects for Texcess by saying flatly, "I'm not running." Trainer Mike Puhich, was not quite so definite, though he did say it was doubtful his horse would run.

"I wanted to take a look at the race," he said from his Santa Anita barn this morning. "We probably won't run, but I'll work him a half-mile on Monday and then make a decision."

Committed to the race are 2005 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Giacomo and two-time Pacific Classic runner-up Perfect Drift. Others expected to enter are Magnum, Preachinatthebar, Super Frolic, Good Reward, Papi Chullo and Top This and That.

Perfect Drift and Good Reward are to ship west from their Kentucky and New York bases, respectively. Trainer Murray Johnson says Perfect Drift will work on Saturday and ship to the Del Mar barn of trainer Patrick Gallagher on Monday. Trainer Claude R. "Shug" McGaughey III said this morning from his barn at Saratoga Race Course that Good Reward would work 5 furlongs on Monday and ship from nearby Albany, N.Y., to Del Mar on Thursday.

The draw for post positions is set for Wednesday evening at the Del Mar Powerhouse Park on the beach.