The Grade II, $200,000 San Diego Handicap is the feature race on opening Saturday at Del Mar. The 1 1/16th-mile heat drew a field of six led by last year’s winner, CATALINA CRUISER. Post time for the San Diego, Race 4 of 10 on the day, is 6:30 p.m. ET.
#1 CATALINA CRUISER (1-2, morning-line favorite) stands out on the strength of his True North score at Belmont last month. Sent off as a tepid favorite in his first start since flopping in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, the son of Union Rags got past a determined Strike Power while nearly breaking the track record. CATALINA CRUISER ran his career record to 5-for-6 as a result of his True North score. The John Sadler trainee should face little pace pressure in the San Diego, assuming Joel Rosario wants to be aggressive with him from the rail post. Based on speed figures, CATALINA CRUISER looks like a solid “single” for wagering purposes.
#4 DRAFT PICK (8-1) could round out a decent exacta in the San Diego under Martin Garcia. The Peter Eurton trainee was last seen taking a high-level allowance race on June 15 at Santa Anita. That was his first start since last August, where he was a distant second to Mr Freeze in the West Virginia Derby. DRAFT PICK needed six chances to break his maiden, but he rewarded the confidence of his connections by taking the Grade III Affirmed next time out before just missing in the Los Alamitos Derby. A slight improvement in the speed figure department today is not out of the question.
#2 CORE BELIEFS (5-1), a stablemate of DRAFT PICK, moves up if there’s a scratch. He appeared to find 1 1/4-miles too far in the Santa Anita Gold Cup last time out, finishing sixth. But prior to that, CORE BELIEFS upset the Grade II New Orleans Handicap at the Fair Grounds. He was also in the money in the Santa Anita Derby, Peter Pan Stakes and Ohio Derby at age three. Flavien Prat has the call.
The play: $10 exacta 1/4
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