Catalina Cruiser's chances 'very strong' for Pat O'Brien double

Del Mar Stable Notes
August 23, 2019 04:29pm

The San Diego Handicap (G2) and Pat O’Brien Stakes (G2) would seem an odd couple of events for a horse to undertake, let alone win, in any summer meeting.

The former runs around two turns at 1 1/16 miles, while the latter is a seven-furlong sprint going on turn. So t
here’s enough difference between the two that before last year only one horse, Fed Biz, had won both – the O’Brien in 2013 and the San Diego the following year.

Then along came Hronis Racing’s
Catalina Cruiser. Trained by John Sadler and ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, the chestnut son of Union Rags last year cruised to a wire-to-wire, 6 3/4-length victory in the San Diego. A month later, Catalina Cruiser powered to a 7 ¼-length win in the O’Brien.

Back for his 5-year-old season, Catalina Cruiser won Belmont Park's True North Stakes (G2) sprinting in June to kick off his season before repeating in the San Diego on July 20. 

After that, Catalina Cruiser was nominated for last weekend's TVG Pacific Classic (G1).
 But Sadler figured he had the horsepower -- in Higher Power -- to win the $1 million event without that big horse. And last Saturday, Sadler was proven correct as Higher Power coasted.

In this spot, Sadler’s confidence in Catalina Cruiser, who will break from the outside post in Saturday’s 34th
 running of the O’Brien, a qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in November at Santa Anita, couldn’t be higher.

“Needless to say he got a very good draw,” Sadler said. “At seven-eighths you couldn’t get a better post, and he looks very strong to me. We thought all along that either this race or the Forego (at Saratoga) was a better fit for him than the mile and a quarter (of the Pacific Classic).

“We were a little concerned the way he came out of his last race. He was a little bit tired, so the timing and distance of the O’Brien is better, and we’re doing what’s best for the horse.”

The field from the rail: Lieutenant Dan (Abel Cedillo, 20-1), Chief Cicatriz (Ruben Fuentes, 20-1), Jalen Journey (Norberto Arroyo, Jr., 5-1), Giant Expectations (Drayden Van Dyke, 7-2), Seven Trumpets  (Victor Espinoza, 15-1), American Anthem (Rafael Bejarano, 4-1) and Catalina Cruiser (Flavien Prat, 4-5).

2019 Pat O'Brien Handicap (G2)


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