News and STORIES

Higher Power Takes Pacific Classic Stakes

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Monday August 19, 2019

Higher Power had an impressive run on Saturday as he took the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) at Del Mar. This is the second consecutive year that Hronis Racing and trainer John Saddler have been in the winners’ circle in the Pacific Classic.

With his win in the Pacific Classic, Higher Power received an automatic berth in the Classic, which runs at Santa Anita Park in November. The race on Saturday was a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event.

The Running

The leading jockey, Flavien Prat, was onboard Higher Power. It was his first time with the horse. At the start of the race, Higher Power stayed behind the leader Quip but was holding steady. Quip posted fractions of :23.68, :47.69, and 1:12.65 as Higher Power followed him.

As the field came out of the backstretch, Higher Power managed to move up and get alongside Quip. He then passed up the leader to move out ahead. Two other horses, Mongolian Groom and Draft Pick, pushed ahead but were not able to give it enough. By the top of the stretch, it was decided.

Higher Power finished in first with an impressive 5 1/4-length lead, and he completed the 1 1/4-mile fast main track event in 2:02.43.

Prat spoke about the race, which was his first Pacific Classic.

“There were no special instructions, just make him comfortable,” he said. “We were in a good spot all the way around. When we entered the backside, he really grabbed the bit, and I was traveling really well. Once the leader fell apart, he really jumped into the bridle and did everything on his own, so I thought that was the right move. I didn’t know if somebody would come from behind, but definitely, I thought that was the right thing to do. It has been a great year so far, and I’m really happy to win the Pacific Classic. It means a lot to me.”

Draft Pick and Mongolian Groom battled in the stretch for second place, but Draft Pick came out by a neck ahead. Tenfold finished four lengths behind them to finish in fourth. Campaign, Higher Power’s stablemate, came all the way up from last to finish in fifth over War Story. In the early parts of the race, War Story was challenging the lead, but he started to steady and fall back to finish sixth.

A disappointing performance by the 2/1-favorite Seeking the Soul had him finish in seventh. He was never able to get going, but he has already qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic after winning the Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) earlier this year.

The rest of the order was completed with Pavel, Quip, and For the Top finishing in the last three spots.

Higher Power’s Year

The Pacific Classic Stakes was Higher Power’s third win of the year. His first two were allowance victories earlier in the season at Fair Grounds and Santa Anita Park. The race at Fair Grounds was the last start for owner and breeder Pin Oak Stable and trainer Mike Stidham.

Higher Power sold for $250,000 at the Keeneland April sale, and he became part of John Sadler’s and Hronis Racing’s teams. He is the 4-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro.

Higher Power’s career record now sits at 13-5-1-4, and his total earnings are $800,648.

Sadler’s former horse, Accelerate, put on an incredible performance to win the 2018 running of the race.

“The second time is just as sweet,” Sadler said. “It developed pretty much the way we thought. We thought there would be some speed on the inside, and the plan was to stalk. It came out the way we thought it would.”

Higher Power returned $21.20 to win, $9.40 to place, and $7.40 to show. Draft Pick brought back $17.40 to place and $10 to show, and Mongolian Groom paid $7.20 to show.