Ginobili Slam Dunks Pat O'Brien Foes, Earning Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile Slot - Horse Racing News

Getting a perfect trip under Drayden Van Dyke just off pace-setting Brickyard Ride, Ginobili took command at the top of the stretch and cruised to a 1 3/4-length victory over 2-1 favorite C Z Rocket in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, Calif.

Flagstaff, second choice in the wagering, finished third, with Eight Rings fourth in the field of nine sprinters going seven furlongs on dirt.

Ginobili, a 4-year-old gelding by Munnings out of Find the Humor, by Sharp Humor, completed the distance on a fast track in 1:22.36. He paid $12.80 for the win, his first in a stakes race in his 13th career start.

The win gave Ginobili an all fees paid spot in the starting gate for the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, as part of the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In Challenge Series. This year’s Breeders’ Cup world championships will be held Nov. 5-6 at Del Mar.

Owned by Slam Dunk Racing, Jerry McClanahan, Michael Nentwig and trainer Ricard Baltas, Ginobili was a $35,000 purchase by Baltas at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, where he was consigned by his breeder, Hinkle Farms.

Brickyard Ride delayed the start by running off as horses were loading, then once loaded grabbed the early advantage, setting fractions of :22.05 and :44.38 for the opening half mile. Ginobili was on Brickyard Ride’s right flank, then put that one away  on the far turn. Eight Rings pursued from third, with Flagstaff in fourth and C Z Rocket – the 2020 O’Brien winner – in seventh position with three-eighths of a mile to go.

Ginobili opened up a 3 1/2-length lead at the furlong pole, the six furlongs clocked in 1:09.36, and he was never seriously threatened down the lane.

The win was Ginobili’s third from 13 career starts. His connections said they would point the gelding to the Dirt Mile.

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