Appealing Tale gained an automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) on Saturday when taking the $245,000 Pat O’Brien (G2) at Del Mar in wire-to-wire fashion.
Up a half-length through splits of :23.34 and :45.62, Appealing Tale came under pressure in deep stretch when headed by the pressing Wild Dude. However, the 6-5 favorite shook off that challenge in the final yards to win by a half-length in a time of 1:21.40 for seven furlongs over a fast track. Indexical was 3 1/2 lengths farther back in third and Kobe’s Back trailed throughout.
Owned by Gary and Cecil Barber, trained by Peter Miller and ridden here by Joe Talamo, Appealing Tale paid $4.40.
Runner-up in the Triple Bend H. (G1) in late June and cutting back from 1 1/16 miles after missing by a head in the San Diego H. (G2) last time, Appealing Tale was winning for the first time in stakes company here. Although a logical contender going forward to the Dirt Mile, it’s hard to glean too much insight from this performance given the small field and favorable pace scenario.
Runner-up Wild Dude, a past winner of races like the Bing Crosby (G1) and Palos Verdes (G2) over six furlongs, seems more like a Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) candidate. The Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) on October 3 is a logical next port of call.
Kobe’s Back was disappointing, but had his back against the wall after breaking slowly and conceding too much ground. Winner of the seven-furlong Commonwealth (G3) at Keeneland in April, he’ll probably continue on the path to the Breeders’ Cup knowing his fondness for the track. However, the six-furlong Sprint, where a fast pace is more assured, might arguably be a better fit than the Dirt Mile.
(Appealing Tale photo: Benoit Photo)