Hronis Racing's Catalina Cruiser appeared a bit leg weary in late stretch but managed to hold on as the 1-9 favorite in a field of four for Saturday's G2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar. The 5-year-old son of Union Rags and jockey Joel Rosario covered 1 1/16 miles over the fast main track in 1:44.20. Trained by John Sadler, Catalina Cruiser held off Mongolian Groom by about a length on the wire.
“The objective of the other jockeys was obviously to press the pace,” Sadler said. “But he was running smooth all the way. 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. The fractions were slow, but this is not a fast track. We'll check the speed figures and things and we'll see how he comes out of it and decide whether to run in the Pacific Classic or not. We've got options.”
Catalina Cruiser set the pace throughout the San Diego, pressured early by Draft Pick through fractions of :24.52 and :48.94. Mongolian Groom kept pace from third on the outside and Core Beliefs was last of the four-horse field while no more than three lengths off the leader.
Draft Pick kept up his pressure on Catalina Cruiser all the way through the far turn, and Catalina Cruiser had to dig deep to pull away in the stretch. He finally cleared that rival only to find Mongolian Groom running on late, but the wire flashed overhead with Catalina Crusier a length in front. Mongolian Groom finished second, with Draft Pick third.
“I'm sure glad to be here today,” said Rosario, whose summer racing venue – Saratoga – was closed today due to excessive heat, “and especially to ride a nice horse like this. He was comfortable out there. He didn't mind that horse next to him. When it came time to go, he just went ahead and did his job. He's a pro.”
Bred in Kentucky by W. S. Farish, Catalina Cruiser was a $370,000 yearling purchase at the Keeneland September sale. He won his first four races in a row, including last year's edition of the San Diego Handicap, but finished sixth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. Catalina Cruiser has won both his 2019 starts to improve his overall record to six wins from seven starts and earnings of over $550,000.
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