Del Mar news: 'Good chance' Catalina Cruiser goes to Pacific Classic

Del Mar Stable Notes
July 21, 2019 04:50pm

Catalina Cruiser went wire-to-wire Saturday in winning the San Diego Handicap (G2) for the second straight year. It was the same race scenario, but a markedly slower time.

The 2018 splits: :23.07, :47.20, 1:11.64, 1:36.52 leading to a final of 1:42.95.

The 2019 splits: :24.52, :48.94, 1:13.04, 1:37.71 leading to a final of 1:44.20.

Not to worry, said trainer John Sadler.

“When you’re 1-to-9 there’s a lot of conversation about style points and things like that, but he was comfortable all the way,” Sadler said. “The fractions were slow, but this is not a fast track.”

Sadler, who entered Sunday  one win away from tying Bobby Frankel for fourth place on the track’s all-time list for trainer stakes wins, could point Catalina Cruiser or stablemate Gift Box to Del Mar's meet feature, the Aug. 17 Pacific Classic (G1).

The trainer told TVG's there's a "good chance" Catalina Cruiser, a son of Union Rags who's 7-for-8, makes the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic his next start. Catalina Cruiser opened his season last month, winning Belmont Park's True North (G2) at seven furlongs.


Turf racing has been very good everywhere but Del Mar for Jeff Mullins-trained Itsinthepost. The 7-year-old French bred gelding has made 37 of 38 career starts on grass and made all but $40,000 of his $1,243,902 in career earnings and won five graded stakes on the stuff in the last two years. His Del Mar record in that time: 0-for-4 with a runner-up in the 2017 Del Mar Handicap being the best result.

So Mullins will be trying something different on Wednesday when he saddles Itsinthepost for the Grade 3, $100,000 Cougar II Handicap at 1 ½ miles on the main track.

“He’s run on it before,” Mullins pointed out Sunday morning. “Right after I got him a race came off the turf and he ran second. He trains on it (dirt) all the time and he’s never run that well on the turf here, so we thought we’d try him.”

The Cougar II has been used as a stepping stone to the Pacific Classic, most notably by Bob Baffert with Richard’s Kid, but Mullins said that’s not in the plans for his horse. The 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic is “too short,” Mullins said.

The Cougar II field from the rail: Premium Forest (Kyle Frey), Itsinthepost (Drayden Van Dyke), Zestful (Abel Cedillo), For The Top (Joe Talamo), Original Intent (Assael Espinoza), Morse Code (Edwin Maldonado) and Campaign (Rafael Bejarano).

CLOSERS – Super mare Vasilika, winner of four straight graded stakes at Santa Anita to start her 2019 campaign,  worked six furlongs in 1:16.80 on the turf course Sunday morning under exercise rider Edgar Rodriguez.

“Finished up strongly, looked very happy out there,” trainer Dan Ward said via text.

Ward, former assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer, recently took over the Gamely (G1) winner's care. She could appear in the Aug. 3 Yellow Ribbon (G1).

Other selected works from 215 on dirt and 24 on grass officially timed Sunday morning: Dirt - Big Score (3f, :37.00), Test the Water (3f, :34.20), Smiling Angelo (5f, :59.80), Turf -  Acclimate (5f, 1:03.40), Elysee’s World (5f, 1:01.60), Storm the Hill (5f, 1:02.80), What a View (5f, 1:02.40), Majestic Eagle (56f, 1:15.40), Toinette (6f, 1:15.20) and Vasilika (1:16.80).


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