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DEL MAR, CA – Catalina Cruiser made easy work of the four-horse field to win Saturday’s $200,000 San Diego Handicap (G2) at Del Mar. This was the sixth career win in seven starts for the five-year-old son of Union Rags whose only loss came in the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile last November.
The 1-9 post-time favorite Catalina Cruiser exploded from the gate and flew straight to the front to control the pace of the race. Draft Pick also broke well and got up to sit just off of Catalina Cruiser in second. Back about a length sat Mongolian Groom followed by Core Beliefs on the rail as Catalina Cruiser set fractions of :24.52, :48.94, and 1:13.40.
As the came out of the final turn, Catalina Cruiser maintained his lead and looked loaded for a strong stretch run. Draft Pick sat close and worked to keep up with the leader but faded down the stretch. Mongolian Groom came out of the turn about four-lengths back of the leader but moved to the middle of the track and made a nice late run right by Draft Pick but ran out of room before causing any sort of threat for Catalina Cruiser who finished first with very little urging from jockey Joel Rosario. Draft Pick held on for third and Core Beliefs finished fourth.
“I’m sure glad to be here today, and especially to ride a nice horse like this,” said winning jockey Joel Rosario. “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.”
Catalina Cruiser is owned by Hronis Racing and trained by John Saddler. This was the second consecutive San Diego Handicap win for Catalina Cruiser who was named the “Champion Sprinter” of last summer’s Del Mar meet where he also won the seven-furlong Pat O’Brien stakes.
“The objective of the other jockeys was obviously to press the pace,” said trainer John Sadler. “But he was running smooth all theway. 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 returned $2.20 to win, $2.1o to place. Mongolian Groom brought back $4.40 to place. There was no show wagering.
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