Only 5 to Face to Star Racehorse Catalina Cruiser

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Cruiser to be Big Favorite in 2019 San Diego Handicap

Hronis Racing’s Catalina Cruiser, primed for his title defense in Saturday’s Grade II $200,000 San Diego Handicap will face five challengers in the 1 1/16-mile event that is the main stepping stone to the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic on August 17.

“We had him (Catalina Cruiser) out this morning, he’s looking good and we’re excited to have him running here again,” trainer John Sadler said early Wednesday morning.

Post positions were to be drawn in the afternoon, but the field beyond Catalina Cruiser will consist of, alphabetically, Core Beliefs, Dr. Dorr, Draft Pick, Higher Power and Mongolian Groom.

Del Mar racingCatalina Cruiser won the 2018 San Diego as a stand-in for stablemate Accelerate then came back to take the Pat O’Brien Stakes to secure the Top Sprinter title of the meet and set his Del Mar record at 2-0. The chestnut 5-year-old son of Union Rags made his 2019 debut with a stretch-rallying win in the True North Handicap on June 7 and has had four workouts since then at Santa Anita.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, whose only San Diego Handicap win came with Fed Biz in 2014, nominated standouts American Anthem, McKinzie and Dr. Dorr to the race and opted to go with Dr. Dorr somewhat surprisingly after sending both McKinzie and Dr. Dorr through workouts Wednesday morning.

McKinzie, second in the Met Mile at Belmont on June 8, went five furlongs in a bullet :59 flat under Joe Talamo. Del Mar clockers had McKinzie galloping out to six furlongs in 1:12.0. Dr. Dorr went four furlongs in a bullet :47.20 under Drayden Van Dyke.

Dr. Dorr, owned by Baffert’s wife Jill, has five wins from 17 career starts and earnings of $512,320. The 6-year-old gelded son of Lookin At Lucky chased Catalina Cruiser home in last year’s San Diego, finishing 6 ¾ lengths behind.

In Saturday’s other major stakes, the Grade II $200,000 San Clemente Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, a field of nine was entered. In alphabetical order, with trainers in parentheses consists of: Apache Princess (J. Keith Desormeaux), Devil’s Dance (Craig Lewis), Harmless (R.B. Hess, Jr.,), Keeper Ofthe Stars (Jonathan Wong), Lady Prancealot (Richard Baltas), Maxim Rate (Simon Callaghan), Mucho Unusual (Tim Yakteen), Over Emphasize (Michael McCarthy), Seranitsa (Neil Drysdale) and Stillwater Cove (Wesley Ward).

Source: Del Mar

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 16-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. He cashed on the NHC Tour for 2018 with a 19th overall finish. Rich was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. A former executive with Brisnet.com, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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