But in his first career graded stakes try, the 5-year-old gelding showed a finishing kick that would make even the best American-turfer envious, blowing by five rivals in the stretch to steal a victory in near record-breaking fashion Aug. 19.
Saving ground for much of the race, jockey Garrett Gomez stayed near the back of the field of nine for the first three-quarters. Then, as they reached the final turn, Gomez swung the New Zealand-bred toward the middle of the track and made an electrifying five-wide charge. Crossing The Line overtook a host of horses in the stretch drive, including Becrux and Isipingo, who finished second and third, respectively. He won by three-quarters of a length.
Trained by John Sadler, Crossing The Line completed the mile in 1:32.59, just one-fifth of a second off the track record. By taking the Del Mar Mile, he earned a berth in the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) at Monmouth Park later this year.
When asked if the owners (Doubledown Stables and MacQuoid), will pay the supplemental fee for the Breeders’ Cup, Sadler said this: “I think so. I don’t want to speak for the owners, but if they have the chance to go to the Breeders’ Cup, I’m guessing they will be happy to put up the money.”
“For me, this is a relief. We set up a plan that we designed for six weeks. We wanted to keep him fresh. I’m just thrilled.”
A son of Cape Cross, out of Winds of War, Crossing The Line went off as the second choice and returned $6.60 to win. The exacta (6-2) with the Italian-bred Becrux was worth $45.40.
Lang Field set the fractions through a half-mile (:46.31), with betting favorite Out of Control and Captain Kurt pressing the pace. The field bunched up by the time they reached the final turn, with Out of Control taking a short lead. Becrux eventually took over in the final 40 yards, but couldn’t hold the lead.
"I could feel him building up underneath me,” Gomez said. “I knew he had a turn of foot. He really impressed me.”
Crossing The Line, making only his sixth career start, won his fifth consecutive race. The first two came in New Zealand. Out of Control finished sixth.