On the heels of a disappointing fifth place finish in the Grade I Haskell Invitational this past Sunday, multiple Grade I winner Dullahan could finally make a return to the synthetic surfaces he relishes in the Grade I Pacific Classic against older horses at Del Mar on August 26.
The Haskell represented the sixth loss for Dullahan in as many tries over a dirt surface as both of his career wins – the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity and Toyota Blue Grass Stakes – came over the Polytrack at Keeeneland. Trainer Dale Romans had been considering putting the son of Even the Score back on the turf, possibly in the Grade I Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park on August 18, but Donegal Racing managing partner Jerry Crawford said Tuesday he would likely bypass that spot and look to Del Mar instead.
“You know we have Finnegans Wake (third in the Grade II Virginia Derby) and we believe he can win the Secretariat so we will not send Dullahan to the Secretariat,” Crawford said on Tuesday. “Having said that, I spent some time this morning studying the Pacific Classic which obviously will be contested on Polytrack like the surface at Keeneland and that is a surface he has excelled at. At least as of today, that is one of things that is under consideration.”
A 3-year-old facing older horses for the first time is always a gamble and the Pacific Classic could represent the deepest end of the pool Dullahan has tried to swim in. Multiple Grade I winner Game On Dude and reigning older male champion Acclamation are both pointing to the $1 million race.
“They’re some of the best older horses in America but it’s on a surface he may prefer,” Crawford said. “It’s a real opportunity to make a strong statement if he can go out there and be successful.”
More than just not handling the track on Haskell day, Crawford also feels that tactically they made a mistake in having Dullahan closer to the pace than normal thus negating his late, one-run style. With dirt races now on the shelf temporarily, Crawford is also non committal on a possible Breeders’ Cup start for the chestnut colt but is already plotting a possible trip to Dubai next March for the $10 million Dubai World Cup over the synthetic Tapeta surface at Meydan Racecourse.
“My goal with him and with (Grade II Remsen Stakes winner) O’Prado Again, who is about to come back to the races at Saratoga, has always been the Dubai World Cup,” Crawford said. “The Breeders’ Cup would be a dream come true but we’re trying to keep our eye on the Dubai World Cup. He’s been through the grueling 3-year-old campaign and at some point he’s going to need a break. I just think we just have to let him tell us on a race by race basis when he wants to run again so it might be premature to answer (the Breeders’ Cup) question.”