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DEL MAR, CA – Bettors must carefully ponder whether Ginobili‘s last-out impressive victory means that he’s prime to bounce or that he’s ready to run off the screen in Saturday’s $200,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes (G2) at Del Mar.
The Pat O’Brien is a 7-furlong dirt sprint open to all horses 3 and up that serves as the penultimate event on an 11-race card. The race is also a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, awarding an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Del Mar this November.
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Here’s a look at the full field for the Pat O’Brien:
1. Ginobili 6/1 – The word was out on him when the Richard Baltas trainee added blinkers last time out, then walloped optional claimers in a local mile dirt route at 6/1 final odds off a 15/1 morning line. The 4-year-old Munnings gelding earned a higher Beyer Speed Figure (104) than Express Train did for winning the San Diego Handicap (G2) later on the card. Is he legit or will he bounce?
2. Howbeit 6/1 – He steps back up to graded stakes action for the second time after finishing third in the June 2020 Laz Barrera Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park. He’s run consistently well since trainer Mark Glatt claimed him for $32k this past February, finishing fourth, second by 3/4 of a length (twice), and most recently winning a pair of 6 1/2-furlong optional claiming sprints by open lengths.
3. Surfing Star 30/1 – The 6-year-old California-bred tries graded stakes action for the first time in a tough spot, especially considering this horse’s 3 career wins all came in 2018. He came within a 1/2-length of defeating optional claimers going 6 1/2 furlongs on the Santa Anita Park main track, then stumbled and fell way behind before finishing a distant fourth to Howbeit last time out over this track.
4. Mo Mosa 10/1 – He cuts back to one turn for the first time this season after competing at 8 and 8 1/2-furlong distances across the country. He won a stakes race on the Fonner Park bull ring in April, then upset C Z Rocket in a sloppy edition of the Steve Sexton Mile (G3) at Lone Star Park prior to finishing fourth last time out in the local San Diego. Ramon Vazquez flies in to ride for the third straight start.
5. Eight Rings 6/1 – He nearly upset his second start of the year in the local 6-furlong Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) last time out, fighting gamely and missing by a neck in an improved performance over his fourth in the 7-furlong Triple Bend Stakes (G2). He broke his maiden over this course on debut and won the American Pharoah Stakes (G1) 2 starts later as a juvenile but is winless since.
“(Eight Rings) went way off form, but I think he’s coming back now,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “It’s not an easy spot for him, though. There are a lot of tough horses in there.”
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6. Classier 12/1 – Eight Rings’ stablemate is the field’s lone 3-year-old facing elders, his first time doing so, which may be a vote of confidence from his barn considering he won 1 1/8-mile Los Al Derby (G3) last time out and the runner-up won his next start. He won his lone sprint try, a 6 1/2-furlong debut at Santa Anita Park last October that launched him straight to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
“I was thinking about running (Classier) in the Shared Belief (a route stakes for 3-year-olds on Sunday), but he’s a horse that’s still slowly developing,” Baffert said. “Mike Smith worked him (6 furlongs in a bullet 1:11 last Saturday) and said we should run him 7/8 (of a mile) for now. He’s a horse that I think is really going to improve with time.”
7. Brickyard Ride 8/1 – A multiple dirt sprint stakes winner against California-breds and an open graded company champion to boot, he sped to the early lead in the Bing Crosby last time out but couldn’t hold off the cavalry late and finished fifth behind several rivals he’ll see again here. Expect a similar tactic from Juan Hernandez, who rides for the third straight start and may settle him better this time around.
8. Flagstaff 3/1 – After a career filled with near-misses, including missing by a 1/2-length in last year’s edition, he became a Grade 1 winner this past May when taking the 7-furlong Churchill Downs Stakes. His only start since was a 1 1/2-length defeat in the True North Stakes (G2), held over a Belmont Park dirt course that had some moisture in it. He should relish returning to fast dirt here.
9. C Z Rocket 5/2 – He strung together a 5-win streak last summer after Peter Miller claimed him for $40k and steadily sent him up the ladder, ultimately winning the Pat O’Brien and the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2). After finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), he won a pair of graded sprint stakes at Oaklawn Park and most recently crossed the Bing Crosby wire a neck back in third.
10. California Street 30/1 – He adds blinkers for the first time in his 17-start career as he takes his third stab at a graded stakes placing. He was fourth in the 2019 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) and eighth in the 2020 San Pasqual (G2), both times beaten by a country mile, and his last trip to the winner’s circle came in June 2019. Trainer Patrick Gallagher is 2 for 9 when adding the hood.
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