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San Luis Rey horses take top two positions in Pat O'Brien Stakes


Last updated 9/8/2021 at 4:53pm

Ginobili and jockey Drayden Van Dyke win the Grade II $200,000 Pat O'Brien Stakes Saturday, Aug. 28, at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar. Village News/Benoit Photo

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

San Luis Rey Training Center horses finished first and second in the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien Stakes race Aug. 28 at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

Ginobili, who is trained by Richard Baltas and was ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, won the seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds and upward in 1:22.36. Ginobili finished 1 3/4 lengths ahead of C Z Rocket, who is trained by Peter Miller and had Florent Geroux as his jockey that day.

"It was a great win. I'm very excited," Baltas said.

"Both horses ran great," Miller said. "Hats off to them."

Baltas has trained Ginobili, who was foaled in Kentucky on May 11, 2017, and sired by Munnings out of Find the Humor, since Ginobili was a yearling and purchased at a September 2018 Keeneland sale for $35,000. "That was cool," Baltas said.

"He's really turned into being a very, very good horse," Baltas said. "Now he's better than ever."

The Pat O'Brien Stakes is a "Win and You're In" race which automatically qualifies the winner for the Breeders' Cup. The Breeders' Cup dirt mile race Nov. 6 at Del Mar is expected to be Ginobili's next start.

"We're now in the Breeders' Cup," Baltas said.

The Pat O'Brien Stakes had nine horses. Ginobili had the first post position while C Z Rocket had the superlative outside position. "We drew the rail," Baltas said.

Van Dyke and Ginobili broke first, although Baltas' instructions to the jockey were to set behind the "speed" horse and get off the rail. "He did everything correctly," Baltas said.

In horse racing "speed" refers to horses with fast starts who win if they build up enough of a lead to hold off the horses who excel at closing. Brickyard Ride was the speed horse in the race, and 22.05 seconds after the starting gate was opened he led the race. Ginobili was second, half a length behind Brickyard Ride and half a length in front of third-place Eight Rings. Geroux and C Z Rocket were in eighth place, 5 1/2 lengths behind Brickyard Ride and a length in behind seventh-place Mo Mosa.

The first half of a mile took Brickyard Ride 44.38 seconds and he still had the lead while Ginobili was still second half a length behind. Eight Rings was in third, two lengths behind Ginobili. C Z Rocket overtook Mo Mosa for seventh and trailed Brickyard Ride by 5 1/2 lengths and sixth-place Classier by two lengths.

Brickyard Ride fell back to seventh by the beginning of the stretch and eventually finished last. Ginobili entered the stretch 1:09.36 into the race with a 3 1/2-length lead over second-place Flagstaff. C Z Rocket was in third, a length behind Flagstaff and a length in front of fourth-place Eight Rings.

Ginobili and jockey Drayden Van Dyke win the Aug. 28 race, finishing 1 3/4 lengths ahead of C Z Rocket. Village News/Benoit Photo

C Z Rocket and Geroux won the battle for second, finishing a head in front of Flagstaff and jockey Joe Bravo.

The win was the third in 13 career races for Ginobili. His other two victories were also at Del Mar including a July 17 race which was his most recent start prior to the Pat O'Brien Stakes.

"Everything worked out," Baltas said. "Very happy."

The $200,000 total purse included $120,000 for first place and $40,000 for second place. The first-place share increased Ginobili's career earnings to $279,825.

"The horse came out of the race really well," Baltas said.

C Z Rocket now has 11 wins in 28 starts including seven victories in 11 races since he was claimed in an April 2020 race at the Oaklawn Park track in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and transferred to Miller's barn. The second-place finish was his third with Miller.


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