With our attention turned Eastward for Saturday's Travers card at Saratoga, let's not forget about the West Coast!
Del Mar features an important sprint race: the Win and You're In $200K Pat O'Brien Stakes (G2). It's a qualifier for an automatic berth to the 2021 Breeder's Cup Sprint (G1) in November.
The Pat O'Brien Stakes has an impressive track record at attracting star horses. Through the years we've had names such as CATALINA CRUISER, GIANT EXPECTATIONS, MASOCHISTIC, BATTLE OF MIDWAY, GOLDENCENTS, and THE FACTOR compete in this race and go on to further their careers at higher levels.
C Z ROCKET and FLAGSTAFF are perfect examples. They finished 1-2 in last year's edition, and since then have done extremely well for their 2021 campaign. They are among the top leaders of their division, and are back again to renew their rivalry. A video replay of 2020 Pat O'Brien is shown below.
The Pat O'Brien serves a pivotal function. Contested at seven furlongs, these horses can move forward from this race by adding a furlong and competing at a mile, or cut back in distance and take on six furlong sprinters.
This year we have nine horses loading into the gate and they're a competitive bunch. Eight of nine horses fall under 12-1, and there's three-way tie for third favoritism. Let's now preview the field and look at three potential winners.
Race 10, The Win and You're In $200K Pat O'Brien Stakes (G2) — 7 furlongs, Dirt, Three-year-olds and upward. Post Time is 6:35 PM PT.
SURFING STAR: 30-1
MO MOSA: 10-1
EIGHT RINGS: 6-1
BRICKYARD RIDE: 8-1
C Z ROCKET: 5-2
C Z ROCKET from the nine hole is the 5-2 morning-line favorite for trainer Peter Miller. The 2020 Breeder's Cup Sprint runner-up has put together a solid campaign this year, never missing the board in all four starts. He was a fast-closing third in the Bing Crosby (G1) last time out, where he was the $1.50-to-win favorite. He gets extra run in this seven furlong spot—a distance which he's shown the best speed relative to this field. Regular rider Florent Geroux is aboard.
FLAGSTAFF breaks from the eight hole for John Sadler, and has been pegged the 3-1 second choice. This son of SPEIGHTSTOWN is back in California after competing in tough races across the country. He should perform well at Del Mar as he's had in the past; he's finished in the money 4 of 5 times at the Surf. In the True North (G2) he finished second to the talented FIRENZE FIRE. Prior to that, he captured the Churchill Downs (G1). He's a classy competitor with plenty of early zip. He will be tough to catch, as he's even better than he was last year. Jockey Joe Bravo will ride for the first time.
GINOBILI breaks from the rail for trainer Richard Baltas, and was assigned morning-line odds of 6-1. Here is an interesting win-candidate. The son of MUNNINGS exits a career-best performance in an Optional Claiming 40k race at Del Mar last time out. It was a one-mile race on dirt, and he took the field gate to wire, winning by almost ten lengths. In preparation for this event, he fired a bullet work on August 21, going 4F in :46.4, as the fastest of 23 workouts at that distance. Jockey Drayden Van Dyke gets the call.