April 12, 2021

Catalina Cruiser makes short work of Pat O’Brien rivals, qualifies for BC Dirt Mile

Catalina Cruiser and jockey Drayden Van Dyke win the Pat O'Brien Stakes (G2) on August 25, 2018, at Del Mar © BENOIT PHOTO

Catalina Cruiser won as he pleased in Saturday’s $200,000 Pat O’Brien (G2) at Del Mar, notching a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Churchill Downs in November.

A “Win & You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge race contested at seven furlongs over a fast track, the Pat O’Brien lost half of its field prior to post time, including champion sprinter Roy H and recent Bing Crosby (G1) winner Ransom the Moon.

Starting at 1-5, Catalina Cruiser seized the lead from Threefiveindia approaching the far turn and extended his advantage to 7 1/4 lengths at the wire over Battle of Midway, who was making his first start since winning the Dirt Mile at Del Mar last November.

Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke for owner Hronis Racing and trainer John Sadler, Catalina Cruiser covered the course in 1:22.13 and paid $2.40. Vorticity was third and Threefiveindia came home last.

The four-year-old Catalina Cruiser made a winning debut at Santa Anita Park last October 7 by 2 1/4 lengths, then beat allowance foes over the same track on May 19 by the same margin. Both were run at six furlongs. His stakes debut in last month’s San Diego (G2) was a tour de force as he led throughout and crossed the wire 6 3/4 lengths ahead of Dr. Dorr. His earnings now stand at $303,600.

Bred in Kentucky by Will Farish, Catalina Cruiser was a $370,000 Keeneland September yearling. He’s by Union Rags and out of the Mineshaft mare Sea Gull, who has also reared Grade 3 winner Eagle.