Tiago Josue Pereira is no stranger to winning races with seven- or even eight-figure purses. In 2009, he partnered with Gloria de Campeao (Brz) (Impression Arg) for the very first time to cause a 24-1 upset in the $2-million G1 Singapore Airlines International Cup and less than a year later, guided the same galloper to a nose victory in the $10-million G1 Dubai World Cup. Roughly a 10% rider since relocating to the United States in 2014, Pereira had ridden seven graded stakes winners, a respectable achievement. The Brazilian, who turns 45 this November, accepted just one mount on Saturday’s blockbuster card at Del Mar, so as to concentrate on the task at hand in the $1-million GI TVG Pacific Classic. It was surely worth the wait, as Pereira rode Hronis Racing’s Tripoli (Kitten’s Joy) to perfection, stamping the colt’s ticket to the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic in the process.
“[Trainer] John [Sadler] told me before the race to be careful, because there were a lot of runners who had a similar style of running,” Pereira commented. “When it was time to run, I had plenty of horse. But once we got in front, he started looking around, waiting on other horses. I looked around and knew we were not going to get caught. This was my only mount today, so I was really focused. I am so happy.”
A latest second from a high draw in the GII San Diego S. in which he stayed on gamely despite a tough trip, Tripoli was cozily drawn the fence this time around and was bet down from 9-1 into 13-2 at the off.
Tripoli was one of the first to break the line at the top of the 10-furlong chute, but it was soon clear that Pereira was looking for some cover so as not to make the running. Help soon came in the form of Tizamagician (Tiznow) and Independence Hall (Constitution), and when those two went on with it, Pereira was able to tuck in Tripoli to sit the coveted box-seat trip. There were no twists to the plot through the middle stages, all riders seemed content with their respective positions after six furlongs in a reasonable 1:11.73. Tripoli was scrubbed along, but was still traveling well on the second turn, and when Independence Hall came under pressure and failed to kick on, Pereira had the opening he hoped might materialize and had pacesetting Tizamagician right where he wanted him. Pulled into the two path at the quarter pole, Tripoli hit the front at the furlong grounds and idled a bit after making the lead, but he’d pinched a winning break and held Tizamagician safe to the wire. Dr Post (Quality Road) came off the bridle with a half-mile to race and looked likely to finish well down the field, but he regained interest in the final quarter mile and plugged on late into third, albeit well-beaten.
It was the third Pacific Classic win in four years for Hronis Racing and trainer John Sadler, who took it in 2018 with Higher Power (Medaglia d’Oro) and again the following season with champion and future Breeders’ Cup Classic hero Accelerate (Lookin at Lucky).
“It feels great to win it again, and you’ve got to give all the credit to the barn,” Kosta Hronis said. “Tiago rode a great race. It’s the only race he rode today because he wanted to focus on it. This horse has matured and just keeps coming along and today he proved himself. We didn’t know if he could go a mile and a quarter, but today we found out.”
Unsurprisingly, given his pedigree, Tripoli made the first 11 starts of his career on the turf, breaking his maiden at odds of 46-1 at second asking sprinting at Santa Anita last June. The handsome chestnut snapped an eight-race skid with a nose defeat of Saturday’s GII Del Mar H. upsetter Astronaut (Quality Road) going a mile in Arcadia May 1, then switched to the dirt to post a half-length victory June 9. A 9-1 chance in the San Diego, Tripoli drew eight of eight and despite covering ground on both turns, stayed on bravely to drop a half-length decision to Express Train (Union Rags).
A $450,000 Keeneland September acquisition, Tripoli is the 15th top-level winner for his Hill ‘n’ Dale-based stallion and his first on conventional dirt. Stephanie’s Kitten was a winner of the GI Darley Alcibiades S. over a synthetic track at Keeneland in 2011. He is stakes winner number 105 and graded/group winner 51 for Kitten’s Joy and is the seventh Grade I/Group 1 winner produced by a daughter of Tapit.
Tripoli was produced by a stakes-placed daughter of 2001 GII Schuylerville S. winner Touch Love (Not For Love), whose MSW daughter Starfish Bay (Elusive Quality) is the dam of MSW & MGSP Blind Ambition (Tapit). Love Train is responsible for the winning 3-year-old filly For the Good Times (Empire Maker) and the unraced 2-year-old filly Starship Jessica (Hard Spun). She was most recently bred to English Channel.
Saturday, Del Mar
TVG PACIFIC CLASSIC S.-GI, $1,002,000, Del Mar, 8-21, 3yo/up, 1 1/4m, 2:02.37, ft.
1–TRIPOLI, 124, c, 4, by Kitten’s Joy
1st Dam: Love Train (SP, $146,499), by Tapit
2nd Dam: Touch Love, by Not For Love
3rd Dam: Smartenof, by Smarten
1ST BLACK TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN, 1ST GRADE I WIN. ($450,000 Ylg ’18 KEESEP). O-Hronis Racing LLC; B-Blue Devil Racing Stable, LLC (KY); T-John W. Sadler; J-Tiago Josue Pereira. $600,000. Lifetime Record: 14-4-3-3, $811,960. Werk Nick Rating: F. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Tizamagician, 124, c, 4, Tiznow–Magic Union, by Dixie Union. ($150,000 Ylg ’18 FTSAUG). O-MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm LLC; B-Woodford Thoroughbreds, LLC (KY); T-Richard E. Mandella. $200,000.
3–Dr Post, 124, c, 4, Quality Road–Mary Delaney, by Hennessy. ($200,000 Wlg ’17 KEENOV; $400,000 Ylg ’18 KEESEP). O-St. Elias Stable; B-Cloyce C Clark (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher. $120,000.
Margins: 1 1/4, 4HF, 1 1/4. Odds: 6.50, 6.90, 3.90.
Also Ran: Sheriff Brown, Independence Hall, Express Train, Royal Ship (Brz), Cupid‘s Claws, Magic On Tap. Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.