Battle Royal Expected in Pacific Classic

If defending Pacific Classic (gr. I) champion Skimming and major contender Futural could wear boxing gloves, it wouldn't be beyond possibility that starter Gary Brinson might say to them, "Touch 'em up and come out fighting."

The know each other that well, and when they run against each other, as they have in each of their last four races, fan can always expect a battle royal. And that's just what's shaping up for these two in Sunday's 11th running of the $1-million Pacific Classic.

In their four battles this year, each has crossed the wire first on two occasions. Futural was disqualified as the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) winner July 1 and placed third, one notch behind Skimming. Futural had beaten Skimming in Hollywood Park's grade II Mervyn LeRoy Handicap on May 5, before bowing to him in the grade II Californian and the San Diego Handicap.

Post positions for the $1-million Pacific Classic: Until Sundown (G. Stevens, 6/1); Futural (C. McCarron, 9/5); Skimming (G. Gomez, 8/5) Dig For It (A. Solis, 30/1); Dixie Dot Com (D. Flores, 8/1) Captain Steve (V. Espinoza, 3/1)

Pacific Classic Works
Dubai World Cup champion Captain Steve went through his final tune-up paces on Tuesday with a sharp :59.60 for five furlongs as he worked in tandem with stablemate Divine Spirit. The 4-year-old Captain Steve started out behind his workmate, but went by as they turned for home and finished in front by three lengths. Trainer Bob Baffert said this morning: "He worked well. I think he turned the corner."

Captain Steve is winless in two tries since his victory in Dubai I March.

Dixie Dot Com, who traveled a half-mile, with regular rider David Flores in the irons, in a sharp 46 seconds flat. Trainer William Morey, Jr. said he was pleased with the work.

Dig For It, with regular exercise rider Zenda Grady up, stopped the clocks in :59.80 for five furlongs, a work that satisfied trainer Bruce Headley.

Trainer Craig Dollase sent his trainee, Futural, out about 9:30 with a workmate, The Denver Dream. Starting four lengths behind the mate, Futural gained steadily on his target and then went past midway down the stretch to hit the wire two lengths up on The Denver Dream. Futural was clocked in :47.40 for the half-mile, while his workmate got a time of :48.60.

Trainer Laura de Seroux watched intently as her 3-year-old Until Sundown strided strongly through the stretch from the quarter pole to the seven-furlong pole under regular rider Gary Stevens. De Seroux, who accompanied the colt to the paddock prior to the gallop, said she wasn't interested in putting too much speed into the horse at this time. She said the colt would take a turn in the paddock in the second race today and then travel back to his home base at San Luis Rey Downs before returning to the seaside track on Saturday.