Of the 11 entered in Saturday’s $250,000 Pat O’Brien (G2) at Del Mar, four are coming off the Bing Crosby (G1) – near-misser Anarchist and also-rans C Z Rocket, Hoist the Gold, and Spirit of Makena. The seventh furlong of the Pat O’Brien, a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), could make a material difference in the rematch.
Anarchist was part of the three-way photo in the Bing Crosby, splitting The Chosen Vron and Dr. Schivel in that Challenge event for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). The Doug O’Neill pupil also sports top East Coast form as the runner-up to champion Elite Power in the True North (G2). Anarchist won’t have to face any of them here, but he has a habit of settling for second. Only a jaunt to Woodbine, and a victory in the May 14 Jacques Cartier (G3), snapped his sequence of runner-up finishes, including in the Kona Gold (G3) to Brickyard Ride and to Spirit of Makena in an allowance.
Spirit of Makena arguably has the most reason to improve in the Pat O’Brien. The lightly-raced five-year-old was badly hampered in the Bing Crosby, checking in a toss-out 12th, the only time he hasn’t been involved in the finish. Moreover, Spirit of Makena is 2-for-2 going seven furlongs, with smooth wins in the Triple Bend (G2) and San Carlos (G3). Trainer George Papaprodromou has another contender in Moose Mitchell. Stakes-placed in Cal-restricted company earlier in his career, he’s in career form with three straight allowance tallies.
Brickyard Ride figures to rev the engine early, but he’s winless from five appearances at Del Mar. The Grade 2 veteran did lead a long way on the stretch-out, however, in the 1 1/16-mile San Diego (G2) before succumbing in third. His task could be complicated by Chilean Group 2 scorer Vivir Con Alegria, who also should show plenty of speed.
Nine-year-old veteran C Z Rocket, winner of the 2020 Pat O’Brien and runner-up in 2021, rallied for fifth in the Bing Crosby. Peter Miller puts the blinkers back on the $2 million-earner for the first time in a year. His last start in the headgear came in the 2022 Pat O’Brien, when he was a non-threatening eighth. C Z Rocket responded with runner-up efforts in last fall’s Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2) and Breeders’ Cup Sprint, but he might need a bit more help to focus now.
Miller is double-handed with new recruit Visitant, who is mounting a comeback after retiring to stud in California earlier this year. Aside from his task of regaining race fitness, Visitant is best known as an all-weather specialist. He was especially fond of Turfway Park, scoring four stakes wins at that venue including the 2021 Kentucky Cup Classic over Set Piece and the Holiday Cheer S. on New Year’s Day.
Hoist the Gold, eighth in the Bing Crosby, goes back up to his favorite seven-furlong distance. Never off the board in six career tries over this trip, the Dallas Stewart charge placed in last December’s Malibu (G1), just missed in Commonwealth (G3), and was best of the rest behind Cody’s Wish in the Churchill Downs (G1) on Kentucky Derby Day.
Sir Atticus makes a poignant stakes debut as a homebred for the late Jerry Moss. Now racing in the name of his estate, the John Shireffs pupil is climbing the ladder swiftly after just beginning his career in May. The four-year-old son of Gormley won second time out at Santa Anita June 18 and promptly cleared his entry-level allowance condition at Del Mar July 21.
Bye Bye Bobby makes an extreme cutback from his third in the 1 1/2-mile Cougar II (G3). The Todd Fincher runner has shown distance versatility in New Mexico, where he won stakes from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles in his previous two outings. Go Joe Won, winless since his 21-1 upset of the Shared Belief S. here last summer, hopes to create a sense of déjà vu second off the layoff for Paula Capestro.
The 10th and penultimate race on the Saturday card, the Pat O’Brien is scheduled for 9:31 p.m. ET.