Catalina Cruiser (Hronis Racing), is primed for his title defense in Saturday's Grade II $200,000 San Diego Handicap will face five challengers at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in the 1 1/16-mile event that is the main stepping stone to the $1 million Pacific Classic on August 17.
Catalina Cruiser, a five-year-old son of Union Rags trained by John Sadler, will have Joel Rosario in the saddle as he attempts to repeat his San Diego victory of a year ago when he carried 115 pounds, eight less than he will pack Saturday. He also won the seven-furlong Pat O'Brien Stakes last season to earn top sprinter honors.
2019 San Diego Handicap Odds & Entries
Race 4 at Del Mar on Saturday, July 20 - Post 6:30 PM
|1||Catalina Cruiser||1-2||Joel Rosario
|2||Core Beliefs||5-1||Flavien Prat
|3||Higher Power||15-1||Drayden Van Dyke
|4||Draft Pick||8-1||Martin Garcia
|5||Mongolian Groom||15-1||Abel Cedillo
|6||Dr. Dorr||4-1||Rafael Bejarano
"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.
Beaten only once in six lifetime races, a sixth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile last November at Churchill Downs, Catalina Cruiser comes into the San Diego from a victory in the True North at Belmont Park June 7.Opposing Catalina Cruiser will be Core Beliefs (119, Flavien Prat); Higher Power (116, Drayden
Van Dyke); Draft Pick (118, Martin Garcia), Mongolian Groom (115, Abel Cedillo), and Dr. Dorr (119, Rafael Bejarano).
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 somewhat surprisingly after sending both McKinzie and Dr. Dorr through workouts Wednesday morning.
McKinzie, second in the Met Mile at Belmont on June 8, went five furlongs in a bullet :59 flat under Joe Talamo. Del Mar clockers had McKinzie galloping out to six furlongs in 1:12.0. Dr. Dorr went four furlongs in a bullet :47.20 under Drayden Van Dyke.
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.
Justifiably, defending race champion Catalina Cruiser commands attention above all others, and designation as the 1-to-2 morning line favorite while drawing the No. 1 post.
But standing just to the outside of Catalina Cruiser waiting for the gates to open will be Gary S. Broad's Core Beliefs, a two-time graded stakes winner and earner of $873,011 who ranks, with 2018 San Diego runner-up Dr. Dorr, as a potential upsetter.
A 4-year-old son of Quality Road acquired for $350,000 in March of 2017, Core Beliefs recouped nearly double his purchase price with a 2018 campaign highlighted by a spring/summer run in which he finished third in the Santa Anita Derby and second in the Peter Pan at Belmont Park before winning the Ohio Derby. A victory in the New Orleans Handicap in his 2019 debut in March and sixth of seven in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita served as prelude to the San Diego.
"His works have been pretty good and he's doing very well," trainer Peter Eurton said Friday morning while conceding that the task for Core Beliefs looks formidable.
"Catalina Cruiser is a tough horse," Eurton said. "If somebody decides to go with him and soften him up that might help, but if he catches an easy lead he'll be tough to beat. And I don't see too much speed in there."
In Saturday's other major stakes, the Grade II $200,000 San Clemente Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, a field of nine was entered. In alphabetical order, with trainers in parentheses consists of: Apache Princess (J. Keith Desormeaux), Devil's Dance (Craig Lewis), Harmless (R.B. Hess, Jr.,), Keeper Ofthe Stars (Jonathan Wong), Lady Prancealot (Richard Baltas), Maxim Rate (Simon Callaghan), Mucho Unusual (Tim Yakteen), Over Emphasize (Michael McCarthy), Seranitsa (Neil Drysdale) and Stillwater Cove (Wesley Ward).