Midnight Crooner and My Best Brother won divisions of the $109,300 Oceanside Stakes in front of a record crowd of 47,339 on opening day at Del Mar on Wednesday.
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Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert and ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Midnight Crooner won the opening division by a neck over Chips All In. Boat Trip, the 2-1 favorite, finished fifth in the seven-horse field. Midnight Crooner ran one mile on the Jimmy Durante turf course in 1 minute, 34.74 seconds and returned $10.20 for a $2 win bet.
The 3-year-old colt earned $65,580 to increase his career earnings to $128,765 with three wins in seven starts.
”It’s crazy here,” said Baffert, who won his leading 94th stakes at Del Mar. ”It’s like (Kentucky) Derby day without the Derby. It goes to show that racing is alive and well in California.”
In the second division, My Best Brother and Martin Garcia defeated Tones by a half-length. The colt trained by Julio Canani ran the distance in 1:34.39 and paid $14 to win, his third victory in six career starts. He earned $65,940 to increase his winnings to $133,090.
Holy Candy, the even-money favorite co-owned by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, was pulled up in the stretch by jockey Garrett Gomez, apparently with a non-life threatening injury to his left foreleg.
It wasn’t a good day for another Brees’ horse. Siempre Mio finished last in the eighth race. Brees’ ownership group claimed the horse from previous co-owners Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers in June.
The attendance bettered the old record of 46,588 set last year on opening day of the summer meet. It was the eighth straight year that attendance topped 40,000 on the first day.