Hronis Racing’s talented and unbeaten Catalina Cruiser, the 1-5 favorite under jockey Drayden Van Dyke, emphatically punched his ticket for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in November at Churchill Downs with a showcase performance in the featured Grade II $200,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes Saturday at Del Mar.
Catalina Cruiser took command from the inside midway down the backstretch, opened up in the upper stretch and cruised to the wire seven and one-quarter lengths in front, running the seven-furlong distance in a quick 1:22.13 while under only mild urging from Van Dyke.
Battle of Midway, competing for the first time since taking the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Del Mar last November after which he had a brief, unsuccessful stint at stud, ran well in his return to be second, two and one-quarter lengths ahead of Vorticity, with Threefiveindia another five and three-quarter lengths farther back in fourth and last.
Withdrawn from the line-up were Roy H, Ransom the Moon, Horse Greedy and St. Joe Bay.
With only four starters, there was no show wagering for the race which is part of the Breeders’ Cup’s series of “Win and You’re In” qualifying contests.
Catalina Cruiser, a four-year-old son of Union Rags trained by John Sadler, scored his fourth win in as many starts. In his previous outing, he won the San Diego Handicap by six and three-quarter lengths. He returned $2.40 and $2.10, while Battle of Midway paid $2.20 to place. There was a minus place pool of $29,348.
First money of $120,000 increased Catalina Cruiser’s earnings to $303,600. He was a $370,000 purchase as a yearling at Keeneland in 2015. The colt is a stablemate of Accelerate, hero of the recent Grade I $1 million TVG Pacific Classic for the Hronis brothers and Sadler.
In Saturday’s supporting feature, the $100,000 Shared Belief Stakes for three-year-olds, Tatters to Riches, the 6-5 favorite under Tyler Baze, dominated his foes with a three and three-quarter length triumph.
Pat O’Brien Replay
Tatters to Riches, conditioned by Jeff Mullins for owners Red Baron’s Barn and Rancho Temescal, wore down pacemaking Afleet Ascent in the upper stretch and pulled away to win impressively. Afleet Ascent held on for second, three and three-quarter lengths in front of Shivermetimbers, with Yulong Warrior fourth in the field of five sophomore runners. The winner’s prize was $60,000.
Tatters to Riches, a son of Union Rags bred in Kentucky, stepped the mile on the main track in 1:36.94 and returned $4.40, $3 and $2.10 after his third triumph in four starts. The colt broke his maiden first time out last summer at Del Mar, was sixth to Bolt D’Oro in the Del Mar Futurity and then went to the sidelines. He returned August 4 at Del Mar and was a winner at six and one-half furlongs.
Runner-up Afleet Ascent returned $5 and $2.80 while Shivermetimbers paid $2.20 to show.