January 22, 2022

Catalina Cruiser easily captures stakes debut in San Diego

Catalina Cruiser winning the 2018 San Diego Handicap (Benoit Photos)

Trainer John Sadler originally had three Hronis Racing-owned horses in Saturday’s $200,000 San Diego H. (G2) at Del Mar, but scratched two, including stable star Accelerate, in favor of the lightly-raced Catalina Cruiser.

The 13-10 favorite despite making only his third career start and his first in a stakes, Catalina Cruiser toyed with four rivals after setting a sensible pace under Drayden Van Dyke. Breaking from post 1, Catalina Cruiser grabbed the lead by the first turn and was followed in close attendance throughout by Dr. Dorr. However, the fractions were a modest :23.07, :47.20, and 1:11.64.

Edging clear from that rival approaching the quarter pole, Catalina Cruiser opened in the lane to win as he pleased by 6 3/4 lengths, completing 1 1/16 miles over a fast track in 1:42.95.

“The nickname of this horse around the barn is ‘The best horse nobody’s heard of.’ Today we changed it to ‘the next big thing,'” Sadler said.

Giving Hronis Racing and Sadler their second consecutive win in the San Diego following Accelerate’s upset of Arrogate last year, Catalina Cruiser paid $4.60. Dr. Dorr held second by 1 3/4 lengths over Dabster, with Two Thirty Five a neck behind in fourth and Harlan Punch the distant trailer.

In addition to the withdrawals of Accelerate and stablemate Curlin Rules, the field was halved by the additional scratches of Sharp Samurai, Prince of Arabia, and El Huerfano.

The four-year-old Catalina Cruiser made a winning debut at Santa Anita lat October 7 by 2 1/4 lengths, then beat allowance foes over the same track on May 19 by the same margin. Both were run at six furlongs. His earnings now stand at $183,600.

“We’ve loved this horse from day one,” Sadler said. “He’s showed a lot of potential, but we’ve had to be patient with him. Today he showed us what we thought he could do.

“We’re not going to run two in the Pacific Classic (G1). We’re going to run one horse to be determined. We’re going to see how these horses (Accelerate, Catalina Cruiser) train over the track and pull up.”

Bred in Kentucky by Will Farish, Catalina Cruiser was a $370,000 Keeneland September yearling. He’s by Union Rags and out of the Mineshaft mare Sea Gull, who has also reared Grade 3 winner Eagle.