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Aug 27, 2010

No superstars just good horses in Pacific Classic

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The $1 million Pacific Classic guarantees the victor a spot in this year's Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. It's unlikely that the horse will the favorite for the end-of-year race, but he will certainly get consideration.

Saturday's 20th Pacific Classic at Del Mar does not have any glamour names among the 10 entered. However, it's an excellent betting race that could produce big numbers.

Four-year-old gelding The Usual Q.T. is the 3-1 morning-line favorite. He will break from the far outside spot with Victor Espinoza again riding. Trained by Jim Cassidy, The Usual Q.T. is coming off a win in the Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar on the turf. He races primarily on the grass, having won last year's Oak Tree and Hollywood Derbies on the infield.

"He's trained really well," Cassidy recently said. "Nothing riles him, nothing gets him upset. He's very happy. I've never - in early days maybe he was a little bit elusive. But right now, he's pretty quiet. He's laid back and he's quite happy with himself. He doesn't do anything silly. He gets himself a little worked up before a race. That's about it."

The Usual Q.T. has eight wins from 15 starts and a bankroll of just under $1 million. All of his victories have come on the turf and Saturday's event is on Del Mar's synthetic main track. The gelding was ninth in this year's Summer Millions Classic on Santa Anita's synthetic surface.

"He's learned to relax; it's made all the difference for him," Espinoza after the Eddie Read.

Defending Classic champ Richard's Kid is the 7-2 second choice. Last year he won the race as a 24-1 longshot over Einstein and Rail Trip. The five-year-old is trained by Bob Baffert and will start from post six with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith back trying to duplicate last year's Pacific Classic victory tandem.

Richard's Kid is also on the verge of becoming a millionaire, he has won seven of 25 starts for $966,370. Along with a pair of seconds in his career, the veteran thoroughbred has finished third a total of seven times, including his last two starts in the Hollywood Gold Cup and Cougar II Handicap.

The 9-2 third pick is another veteran runner Awesome Gem. The richest horse in the race with more than $2.2 million in the bank, the seven-year-old gelding is trained by Craig Dollase for West Point Thoroughbreds.

This will be Awesome Gem's fourth time in the Classic, having been second to Student Council in 2007 and seventh the last two years. He captured the Hollywood Gold Cup on July 10, his seventh career win in 36 starts. Awesome Gem will start next to the favorite in the nine hole.

The rest of the field looks this way: Battle of Hastings, Brice Blanc, 10-1; Isle Of Giant's, Patrick Valenzuela, 30-1; Dakota Phone, Joel Rosario, 6-1; Temple City, Rafael Bejarano, 5-1; Unusual Suspect, Alonso Quinonez, 20-1; Hold Me Back, Garrett Gomez, 8-1 and Crowded House, Corey Nakatani, 20-1.

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