It was a “Classic” weekend at Del Mar, which featured the meet’s signature stakes, a record-setting ride, and an emotional ceremony.
On Aug. 18, Accelerate romped by 12 1/2 lengths in the Grade I, $1 million Pacific Classic, the largest margin of victory in the race’s 28-year history. Pavel was second-best, while Prime Attraction was an additional 3 1/4 lengths back in third.
With Joel Rosario in the saddle, the 5-year-old Accelerate traveled 1 1/4 miles over the dirt oval in in 2:01.83.
“We don’t get to see a lot of 5-year-old horses anymore,” said Kosta Hronis, who co-owns Accelerate with Pete Hronis. “So this was great that he was able to stay on the track for another year and really mature and get better, and that’s what he has done. I’m so happy for (trainer) John Sadler. This is his first Pacific Classic win, and for this horse to be a part of it is such an honor. We’re happy for us, of course, but we’re so happy for John. He’s done so much, and he’s meant so much to us. He’s more than a trainer. He’s trained the horses, and he’s trained us. We had no idea about the horse racing business when we got involved in 2010. We thought we knew something. We knew nothing.”
Two other stakes were on the day’s undercard: Fatale Bere, whose owners include Mark Mathiesen of Rancho Santa Fe, won the Grade I, $300,000 Del Mar Oaks; and Fashion Business, owned by Little Red Feather Racing (co-headed by Marsha Naify of Solana Beach) was victorious in the Grade II, $250,000 Del Mar Handicap.
In a ceremony before the stakes races, Martine Bellocq, the trainer who braved the burning stables at San Luis Rey Downs in December in an attempt to save her horses, received the 15th Laffit Pincay Jr. Award.
Also that day, Kevin McFarland of Solana Beach finished first in the Pacific Classic Betting Challenge, with prizes including $10,000 cash and a $10,000 entry in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.
On Aug. 19, jockey Drayden Van Dyke tied Hall of Famer Victor Espinoza for the most wins on a single day at Del Mar, with seven. Among his triumphs was the Grade II, $200,000 Del Mar Mile aboard Catapult.
Additional stakes-winning horses during the week were Stormy Liberal ($88,840 Green Flash Handicap) and Vexatious ($75,754 CTT & TOC Stakes).