The Grade II, $200,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes puts sprinters in the spotlight at Del Mar this Saturday. The seven-furlong heat attracted seven runners, including the highly-regarded CATALINA CRUISER. Post time for the Pat O’Brien, Race 9 of a scheduled 10, is approximately 9 p.m. ET.
#7 CATALINA CRUISER (4-5, morning-line favorite) bypassed the Pacific Classic to compete here, as he did in 2018. The John Sadler trainee was an emphatic winner of last year’s Pat O’Brien, scoring by over seven lengths. The consistent and speedy son of Union Rags has but one blemish on his seven-race résumé, a flop in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill. Del Mar’s leading jockey, Flavien Prat, gets a leg-up on CATALINA CRUISER for the first time. He is squarely the horse to beat in this spot off his game San Diego Handicap triumph.
#6 AMERICAN ANTHEM (4-1) outgamed a next-out winner in Flagstaff in his return to Del Mar last month. The Bob Baffert trainee’s year began inauspiciously with two straight defeats as the betting favorite. His 6-4-0-1 record going seven panels is impressive and he’ll have Rafael Bejarano in the irons. AMERICAN ANTHEM should benefit from the outside draw in the Pat O’Brien.
#1 LIEUTENANT DAN (20-1) intrigues at a big price in the Pat O’Brien. He makes his open-company stakes debut off a scintillating victory in the Real Good Deal over this course. The son of Grazen is 5-3-1-1 when sprinting on dirt in his career. LIEUTENANT DAN will be ridden by Abel Cedillo. He should be near a pace likely to be set by CATALINA CRUISER and could hang around for a share.
The play: $6 exacta 7/6, $4 exacta 7/1 ($10)
Follow me on Twitter: @itsgood2beking