Catalina Cruiser to face five in San Diego Handicap defense

Del Mar Stable Notes
July 17, 2019 05:04pm

Hronis Racing’s Catalina Cruiser, primed for his title defense in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 San Diego Handicap, will face five challengers in the 1 1/16-mile event that is the main stepping stone to the August 17 TVG Pacific Classic (G1).

“We had him (Catalina Cruiser) out this morning, he’s looking good and we’re excited to have him running here again,” trainer John Sadler said early Wednesday morning.

The field, from the rail out, consists of Catalina Cruiser (Joel Rosario), Core Beliefs (Flavien Prat), Higher Power (Drayden Van Dyke), Draft Pick (Martin Garcia), Mongolian Groom (Abel Cedillo) and Dr. Dorr (Rafael Bejarano).

Catalina Cruiser won the 2018 San Diego as a stand-in for stablemate Accelerate, then came back to take the Pat O’Brien Stakes (G2) to secure the Top Sprinter title of the meet and set his Del Mar record at 2-0. The chestnut 5-year-old son of Union Rags made his 2019 debut with a stretch-rallying win in the True North (G2) on June 7 at Belmont Park and has had four workouts since then at Santa Anita.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, whose only San Diego Handicap win came with Fed Biz in 2014, nominated standouts American Anthem, McKinzie and Dr. Dorr to the race and opted to go with Dr. Dorr after sending the horse through a workout Wednesday morning, going a half mile in a bullet 47.20 seconds.

Dr. Dorr, owned by Baffert’s wife Jill, has five wins from 17 career starts and earnings of $512,320. The 6-year-old gelded son of Lookin At Lucky chased Catalina Cruiser home in last year’s San Diego, finishing 6 ¾ lengths behind.

Meanwhile, the Peter Eurton-trained duo of Core Beliefs, a Grade 2 winner earlier this season, and Draft Pick, a come-backing allowance winner to open his 4-year-old campaign, will command respect.

 

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