Personally, this handicapper is happy that the owners of Catalina Cruiser have decided to pass on Saturday’s Pacific Classic in favor of a possible return in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
And, while giving no indication what he will do, we’re also hoping that Steve Asmussen recycles Met Mile winner Mitole; freshen him up and point him toward a showdown with Catalina Cruiser.
While Catalina Cruiser is very talented, our surmise is that he is overrated by national standards and that Mitole will give him more that he can handle. Now all he need do is prove it between the fences.
Mitole might have been flat in the recent G1 AG Vanderbilt, coming off a very ambitious spring-summer campaign that saw him win the storied Met Mile on Belmont day. However, our guess is that three-quarters is not his best trip.
Although he answered the one-mile question, he also defeated arguably better while beating McKinzie and Thunder Snow on Long Island, even if both were trip compromised in that elongated, never-a-breather, one-turn sprint to the finish.
Trainer John Sadler is being very realistic in this spot, admitting that a mile and a quarter is a legitimate concern for Catalina Cruiser, as is this year’s deeper Del Mar surface.
In our opinion, Mitole is a better horse that Catalina Cruiser and would prove it at one mile if given that opportunity. But for either to beat the other, both will have to bring their ‘A’ game.
Another incentive for Mitole, who will enter stud at the end of his 4-year-old year, to be pointed to the Dirt Mile is a chance to prove that he will not be compromised by a second turn. A two-turn victory certainly would enhance his value at stud.
Either way, a Dirt Mile with these two would be an intriguing matchup worthy of admission. Catalina Cruiser is pointing that way. We’d love to see Mitole accept that challenge.