San Diego Handicap looks tough

Sunday’s Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar, the major prep for the $1 million Pacific Classic on Sept. 6, is shaping up as a top-flight handicap race, what with the connections for Well Armed, Colonel John, Life Is Sweet, Mast Track, Kelly Leak, Magnum, Ball Four, Cigar Man and Temple City all considering the race.

It was thought a few weeks ago that trainer Eoin Harty might ship Colonel John east so he could keep the two main handicap stars in his barn — he also trains Well Armed — separated until the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 7 at Santa Anita. But Harty would rather keep Colonel John at home and prep him for the big race here. Colonel John’s considered only “possible” for the San Diego, whereas Well Armed is pretty well set to go.

Well Armed, off his monster 14-length score in the $6 million Dubai World Cup, is considered one of the top handicap horses in the country. He also had a great year in 2008 that ended on a disappointing note when he finished well out of it in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

Life Is Sweet, whose connections prefer to duck stablemate Zenyatta by running her aganst the males again, finished a credible third in the Hollywood Gold Cup on July 11. She was one of the only horses in the field that closed any significant ground late.

Mast Track, who looked to be in poor form heading into the Hollywood Gold Cup, showed some of his old life by finishing fourth and could be a major player the rest of the way if he’s back to the way he was when he went gate to wire to win the 2008 Gold Cup.

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