With the original line-up of ten entrants cut in half by scratches, Hronis Racing’s lightly-raced but talented Catalina Cruiser took full advantage to score an easy front-running victory in the Grade II $200,000 San Diego Handicap Saturday.
Catalina Cruiser, piloted by Drayden Van Dyke, took command shortly after the start of the mile and one-sixteenth race, rated comfortably on the lead and drew off impressively when asked in the stretch, scoring by six and three-quarter lengths in 1:42.95.
Dr. Dorr, who pressed the pace throughout, held second, a length and three-quarters in front of Dabster, with Two Thirty Five fourth in the field of five older Thoroughbreds. Harlan Punch completed the field.
Catalina Cruiser, perfect now in three starts, inherited the role of favorite at 6-5 after the withdrawal of stablemates Accelerate, the 2017 San Diego winner who was scheduled to carry highweight of 125 pounds, and Curlin Rules from the barn of trainer John Sadler. Also scratched were Sharp Samurai, Prince of Arabia and El Huerfano.
Catalina Cruiser, a four-year-old son of Union Rags bred in Kentucky, came into the race undefeated in two sprints – a maiden event in October of 2017 and a six-furlong dash May 19 at Santa Anita. The San Diego marked the chestnut colt’s first experience beyond a sprint distance.
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The winner returned $4.60, $2.80 and $2.40 while earning first money of $120,000 to increase his lifetime bankroll to $183,600. He carried 115 pounds. Runner-up Dr. Dorr paid $3.40 and $2.60, while Dabster returned $2.60 to show.
The San Diego Handicap is the major steppingstone to the Grade I $1 million TVG Pacific Classic which will be run Saturday, August 18 at a mile and one-quarter.
San Diego ‘Cap Replay
In Sunday’s co-featured $200,000 San Clemente Stakes, War Heroine and jockey Tyler Baze barely held off the fast-closing Ollie’s Candy to win by a neck, with 5-2 favored Ms Bad Behavior only another neck away in third place. Ahimsa was fourth in the field of 13 three-year-old fillies.
War Heroine, a daughter of Lonhro owned by Gary Barber and trained by Peter Miller, accomplished the mile over the turf in 1:34.90 and returned $13.80, $7.80 and $4.80. The win was her fourth in six starts and first prize of $120,000 almost doubled her earnings to $240,945.
Runner-up Ollie’s Candy returned $8.60 and $5 while Ms Bad Behavior paid $3.20 to show.
The San Clemente is a prelude to the Grade I $300,000 Del Mar Oaks, also on Saturday, August 18.