By Leslie Carter
Before the horses break from the gate on Sept. 6, in the 19th Pacific Classic, a practical ritual has to take place. The slots in the starting gate need to be assigned.
Since the Pacific Classic is the centerpiece of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club racing season, even though it now comes on the final weekend, a social evening has always been the setting for the Pacific Classic draw.
This year there was a casual open-air buffet at L'Auberge Del Mar, hosted by Sentient Jet. Track announcer Trevor Denman and DMTC secretary Tom Robbins supervised the matching of the post positions to the 12 entries.
The horses to watch in the Grade I Classic are Colonel John, winner of the Wickerr Stakes on July 31 in near record time; Rail Trip, winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup on July 11; and Einstein with big wins both at Churchill Downs and Santa Anita in the last year.
The trainer to watch is Bob Baffert with two entries, and just back from being inducted into Thoroughbred Racing's Hall of Fame in August at Saratoga.
The winner of the Pacific Classic earns a "Win and You're In" slot in the Breeder's Cup Classic at Santa Anita Nov. 7.