A slow start nearly compromised his chances, but Catalina Cruiser‘s ability shone through in Friday’s $250,000 True North (G2) at Belmont Park as the California invader set a new stakes mark with a come-from-behind, half-length victory.
Making his first start since enduring his first career loss, as an odds-on favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) in November, Catalina Cruiser was off awkwardly and took a mild bump a few strides out of the gate, but was rushed up between rivals to vie for third early, racing in the second flight behind Strike Power, who set a pace of :22.38 and :44.96, and Recruiting Ready.
With those two dueling through the stretch, Catalina Cruiser switched out to make a three-wide bid under Joel Rosario and wore the tiring speed down inside the final sixteenth to win. The final time for 6 1/2 furlongs over a fast track was 1:14.85, which also wasn’t far off the track record of 1:14.46.
“He’s a horse that wants to win,” Rosario said. “He wanted to win today. I was very confident in him. He’s a nice horse. I just let him be where he wanted to be. He was always comfortable.”
Owned by Hronis Racing and trained by John Sadler, Catalina Cruiser paid $5.60 as the 9-5 favorite. Strike Power nosed out Recruiting Ready for second.
Catalina Cruiser now has five wins from six lifetime starts. He won his debut at Santa Anita in October 2017, but did not return to the races until the following May when he won an allowance. He next jumped into stakes company and demolished the opposition in both the San Diego H. (G2) and Pat O’Brien (G2) at Del Mar, but failed to replicate that form at Churchill Downs last fall when sixth to City of Light in the Dirt Mile.
By Union Rags, Catalina Cruiser was produced by the Mineshaft mare Sea Gull, who also reared Grade 3 scorer Eagle for breeder Will Farish.
In her second start back from an extended layoff, Separationofpowers turned in one of her more effective performances to comfortably take the $245,000 Bed o’ Roses (G3) for fillies and mares.
Breaking on top and setting a pace of :22.49 and :45.04, Separationofpowers shrugged off a mild bid from outsider Spring in the Wind at the top of the stretch and extended her advantage to 4 3/4 lengths at the wire under Jose Ortiz. Even-money favorite Chalon was a clear second, with Dawn the Destroyer winning a photo for third over Pacific Gale.
Owned by Klaravich Stables and trained by Chad Brown, Separationofpowers returned $7.80 after completing 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:21.46.
Only third of five when favored in last month’s Vagrancy H. (G3), the four-year-old daughter of Candy Ride was much sharper in her second race back from a layoff that lasted more than eight months.
“She got a lot out of her last race and she really moved forward today,” Brown. “She also took advantage of a nice sharp break. Jose took control early and I think that proved to be a good decision today.”
This was the fourth graded stakes win for Separationofpowers, who also captured the 2017 Frizette (G1) and 2018 Test (G1). She’ll likely aim for a third top-level victory in the August 24 Ballerina (G1) at Saratoga.