But the G2 Pat O’Brien did provide a hell of a stretch battle coming down the lane; not quite the Personal Ensign–no bias intended–but pretty damn good.
And that’s thanks to a New York-bred named Giant Expectations who, like Catalina Cruiser, was looking for a free ride into the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile starting gate. Catalina Cruiser had to summon all of his class to prevail.
Into the Del Mar straight Saturday, Catalina Cruiser, victimized by a tough, 4-across-the-track trip throughout, had to move five wide into the lane and and hold his position as Giant Expectations was flying up on his outside.
On even terms in mid-stretch, it became a test of wills and the old racetrack cliche became reality again: a good big horse will beat a good small horse almost every time.
It’s not so much that Giant Expectations is the second coming of Carry Back, but Catalina Cruiser is a total monster.
While the effort looked like a desperate win, 7 furlongs in 1:22 is a fast run on the tiring–and safer–Del Mar surface, and it’s doubtful that John Sadler, saddling his eighth stakes winner of the meet, had his charge fully cranked.
Actually, it was a perfect prep for a two-turn mile,whatever Sadler decides; another prep or training him fresh up to the big dance.
Sure wish that race were a one-turn mile this year: Who would you like between Catalina Cruiser and Mitole?
(This was not to say that Mitole is not a two-turn horse, but no one knows about horses until they do something for the first time. Interesting to see what Steve Asmussen decides for Breeders’ Cup 2019).