DEL MAR, Calif.— Headed by Godolphin’s east coast invader Speaker’s Corner, a field of 10 fast older horses will do battle at Del Mar Saturday in the 37th edition of the Pat O’Brien Stakes, a race named for the prolific movie actor and good friend of Bing Crosby who helped him found Del Mar racetrack in 1937.
The seven-panel test, which carries a purse of $250,000 and Grade II status, will go as Race 9 on the 10-race program with a post time of approximately 6:02 p.m.
The Pat O’Brien is one of Del Mar’s six “Win and You’re In” races. Its winner earns a guaranteed spot in the gate – with all fees paid – to the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, which will be run on Saturday, November 5 at Keeneland in Lexington, KY.
Speaker’s Corner, a 4-year-old colt by Street Sense who has been shipped west from Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott’s barn at Saratoga for the test, comes into the feature with a stellar record that shows six wins, two seconds, and two-thirds in 11 starts for earnings of $722,130. He’s been hooking into some of the best horses in the country of late – namely Flightline and Life Is Good – and though the O’Brien is hardly a soft spot, it surely will be an easier one for the homebred bay.
He gets the saddle services of Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith and they’ll start from Post 8 in the deep chute on Del Mar’s backside. They’ve been installed a stout 6/5 favorite.
Two of his chief foes in the extended dash are Kretz Racing’s American Theorem and Laurel River, a chestnut colt owned and bred by Juddmonte.
American Theorem comes into the O’Brien off a sparkling score in the six-furlong Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar on July 30. The gray 5-year-old ridgling by Horse of the Year and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah had preceded that Grade I tally with a victory in the Grade II Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita on May 29. The stretch runner is going in the finest form of his life and now has four wins in 12 starts for purses of $531,967. Joe Bravo will ride him once again Saturday.
Laurel River is an up-and-comer out of the Bob Baffert barn who enters the race off a pair of handy allowance wins at a mile at Del Mar, one this past July 31 and the other all the way back in September of 2021. The Into Mischief 4-year-old colt gets the meet’s leading rider in Juan Hernandez as he faces the toughest test of his young career.
Here’s the full field for the O’Brien in post position order with riders and morning line odds:
Kagel, Barber or Madaket Stables’ C Z Rocket (Umberto Rispoli up, 15-1); Bernsen and Mia Familia Racing’s Principe Carlo (Victor Espinoza, 15-1); Brinkerhoff or Grayson, Jr.’s Restrainedvengence (Tigao Pereira, 30-1); American Theorem (4-1); Gary Barber’s Get Her Number (Ramon Vazquez, 8-1); Sondereker Racing, Felkin or Thorn’s The Chosen Vron (Hector Berrios, 12-1); Laurel River (5-1); Speaker’s Corner; Pegram, Watson and Weitman’s Defunded (Abel Cedillo, 8-1), and Joe Peacock, Jr.’s Senor Buscador (Edwin Maldonado, 30-1).
The 8-year-old gelding C Z Rocket, a 12-time winner of more than $1.5 million, won the Pat O’Brien in 2020.
Defunded, another out of the Baffert barn, shortens up after a series of two-turn races. The Dialed In 4-year-old gelding is a three-time winner of $337,600.
Get Her Number was most recently second in the Bing Crosby to American Theorem. He, too, is by Dialed In, though he’s a 4-year-old colt who has won over a half million in purses.
First post for the Saturday card will be 2 p.m.
DMTC Press Release
Photo: Speaker’s Corner after his Grade 1 Carter score (Joe Labozzetta)