The uncatchable Arabian Knight in the Pacific Classic

The 3-year-olds showed off their older peers at the Sept. 2 Pacific Classic (G1) in Del Marlike the Arabian knight I stopped Geox Rocket Ride In an exciting movie, Gouda talks about the two 3-year-olds. In the process, Arabian Knights Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert broke a tie with the late Bobby Frankel to win the race for the seventh time, a feat that began with another 3-year-old, general challengein 1999.

Zedan Racing Stables’ Arabian rider hit the field in the $1.025 million race from the start, working his way to the front early under jockey Flavien Prat. Although the colt likes to run up front early, it was a bold strategy, given the 1 1/4 mile and the off pace threats that can loom, especially the Geaux Rocket Ride.

These two 3-year-olds met at 1 1/8 miles on July 22 in the Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Parkwhen the Geaux Rocket Ride Team defeated the Kentucky Derby (G1) winner. pond by 1 3/4 lengths and Al-Knight Al-Arabi finished two lengths back in third place after setting the early pace. Baffert knew going to the Pacific Classic would be the biggest threat.

For the Pacific Classic, Baffert brought in jockey Flavien Pratt to ride. The colt was ridden by John Velazquez in his first three starts: Daylight Victories in the first race of 2022 at Santa Anita Park and the January 28 Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park And also when returning from a long vacation in Haskell. Earlier on the September 2nd card, Pratt had won the Del Mar Mile (G2T) by Baffert. du jour a horse owned by Baffert and Debbie Laney’s wife, Jill.

Geaux Rocket Ride and jockey Mike Smith drew the rail, while Arabian Knight and Pratt drew the 9th. When the gate opened, Pratt and Arabian Knight took the lead. long stroke Biroli He raced second, while Smith on Geaux Rocket Ride got on the rail in third.

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From the start, Baffert had been anticipating the Geaux Rocket Ride.

“I kept my eye on No. 1,” Baffert said. “I knew No. 1 was the horse to beat.” “He looked great in the ring.”

Baffert also had great respect for Richard Mandela, the Hall of Fame coach at Geaux Rocket Ride.

“Richard Mandela doesn’t race horses for fun,” Baffert said. “And (his jockey) Mike Smith – I was probably watching Mike Smith more than I was watching my horse.”

The question was: What direction would Smith take, in or out of the Arabian Knight?

Zedan Racing's Arabian rider and jockey Flavien Pratt, right, pull away from Geaux Rocket Ride, left and Slow Down Andy, center, center and go on to win the $1,000,000 Grade 1 Pacific Classic on Saturday, September 2, 2023 at Club Del Mar Thoroughbred, Del Mar, California.  Benoit Pictures
Photo: Benoit Pictures

Arabian Knight pulls away from Geaux Rocket Ride (left) and Slow Down Andy (center) in the middle of the Pacific Classic race in Del Mar

“I thought about staying inside the whole way,” Smith said. “But then I was afraid of getting stuck in there with the winner.”

Smith chose to take the Geaux Rocket Ride to the outside of the Arabian Knight but before he challenged the 4-year-old Geaux Rocket Ride Arabian Knight Slow down Andy I got to the head of Baffert’s runner around turn two. Arabian Knight had to fend off his larger rival and then tackle the Geaux Rocket Ride.

“A mile and a quarter I wasn’t sure about,” Baffert said. “You don’t know until they do. He got it done, but he got it done with a lot of tenacity in the end. He was so dedicated, he persevered.”

The two 3-year-olds lunged into the wire together, and Al Arabi managed to block his neck in the Geaux Rocket Ride, stopping the clock at 2:03.19. Slow Down Andy was flattened but kept on to third place at 1 1/4 lengths behind Geaux Rocket Ride.

“He’s a beautiful horse and he showed it today,” said Pratt of Arabian Knight. “He’s been running easy for me all the way. He’s been doing light races and I think this race will make him even better.”

Arabian Knight trainer Bob Baffert, left, and jockey Flavien Pratt, right, enjoy victory in the Grade 1 million-dollar Pacific Classic on Saturday, September 2, 2023 at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Del Mar, California.  Benoit Pictures
Photo: Benoit Pictures

Coach Bob Baffert, left, and jockey Flavien Pratt, right, enjoy victory at the Pacific Classic in Del Mar

The Classic, with its rich portfolio, made Arabian Knight a millionaire, totaling $1,244,275 in just four starts. He was a $2.3 million two-year-old purchase by his owner from Top Line Sales shipment to Ocala Breeders’ Sales two-year-old in training last year’s spring sale.

He became the first horse to win the Pacific Classic with only three previous starts. fly line Last year he won the race with four starts.

son Uncle Mo Borealis night by Astrology Arabian Knight, bred in Kentucky by Corser Thoroughbreds, also earned a “Win and You’re In” berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita. Whether the colt runs in a race between the Pacific Classic and the Breeders’ Cup on 4 November will be decided at a later date.

“We’ll see how much that takes from him,” Baffert said. “It was a tough race, but he didn’t look exhausted or anything like that. All these races are demanding. I’m enjoying the moment now.”

Baffert marveled at his seventh Pacific Classic title.

“It’s such an honor, it’s a great race,” he said. I remember the first (when I was 3 years old best friend (He won for Coach Gary Jones in 1991). I was just getting into action. I watched him on the backside on the trainer stand myself because I had to help feed. It was exciting to watch. I never imagined that I would be able to win it so many times.”

After the public challenge, Baffert’s record includes Richard’s child in 2009-10, Game on dude in 2013, collected In 2017, and Maximum security in 2020.

video: FanDuel Racing Pacific Classic S. (G1)

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