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DEL MAR, CA – A crafty early move from jockey Drayden Van Dyke kept Ginobili off the rail and in the clear, allowing him to put forth an unstoppable run in the stretch to win Saturday’s $200,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes (G2) at Del Mar.
The Pat O’Brien is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Ginobili receiving an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Del Mar this November.
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Ginobili broke from the innermost post under Drayden Van Dyke at 5/1 odds but soon took back and settled just outside early pacesetter Brickyard Ride, who led down the backstretch but folded quickly once headed while cornering.
Proving that his last-out monstrous victory in his first time sporting blinkers was no fluke, Ginobili quickly drew away from his rivals by the top of the stretch and had more than enough left to glide home victorious.
The Richard Baltas trainee crossed 1 3/4 lengths safely clear while completing the 7-furlong fast dirt sprint in 1:22.36.
“It went right to plan,” Van Dyke said. “We said we wanted to break good and get a spot behind Brickyard Ride. It worked perfectly. When I worked him the other morning at San Luis Rey … and I couldn’t pull him up, I said ‘Oh, boy.’ I knew what I was sitting on today and it was just a matter of letting him do it. It worked exactly the way it was supposed to.”
Defending champion and 2/1 favorite C Z Rocket outkicked Flagstaff for second by a head (C Z Rocket was a 1/2-length the better of Flagstaff in last year’s edition, with another 1 1/2 lengths back to Eight Rings in fourth.
Classier, Howbeit, Mo Mosa, Surfing Star, and Brickyard Ride completed the order of finish. California Street scratched.
Ginobili’s win was his second straight following a smashing allowance win over this course and distance last month while wearing a hood for the first time. The 4-year-old Munnings gelding’s record now stands at 13-3-1-1 with $279,825 earned for co-owners Slam Dunk Racing, Baltas, Jerry McClanahan, and Michael Nentwig.
“We nominated him to the Pacific Classic, but we talked it over with the owners and decided to go here,” Baltas said. “Then he drew the rail, but it really didn’t seem to matter. I’m just very, very happy. I thought (Van Dyke) rode him great. I told him (Brickyard Ride) is going to go and if you can get off the rail and get outside him, do it. He did all that and (Ginobili) won easy enough, I think.”
Ginobili returned $12.80 to win, $6 to place, and $3.60 to show. C Z Rocket brought back $3.60 to place and $2.60 to show. Flagstaff paid $2.80 to show.
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