My Best Brother and Midnight Crooner, a couple of colts with brothers that were grade I winners, tallied victories in divisions of the Oceanside Stakes for 3-year-olds before a record opening day crowd of 47,339 at Del Mar July 18.
Arnold Zetcher's homebred Midnight Crooner is a full brother to 2011 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Midnight Interlude. Al Eisman and William Currin's homebred My Best Brother is a full sibling to Stormello, who captured the 2006 Hollywood Futurity (gr. I).
Pacesetter My Best Brother, ridden by Martin Garcia in the latter of two Oceanside divisions, put his rivals to sleep going into the far turn on the turf course. The 6-1 shot edged clear on the far turn and had enough left in the drive to hold off the gradually closing Tones by a half-length (VIDEO). The winning time in the faster of the divisions was 1:34.39 for the one-mile distance on firm going.
The winner of the $109,900 event is by Stormy Atlantic out of Wlishewed, by Carson City, and was bred in Kentucky. Julio Canani trains the bay colt for Eisman and Currin.
My Best Brother kicked loose in the lane after Stoney Fleece, who had raced in second for most the journey, gave way on the turn. But the stalking Tones quickly took up the assault in the final furlong only to come up short for jockey Corey Nakatani. Old Time Hockey and Julien Leparoux were third, two lengths behind the winner.
Holy Candy, the even-money choice in the field of eight, trailed the field into the far turn and was pulled up by jockey Garrett Gomez in the final furlong and vanned off the track.
Quarter-mile fractions for the mile were :22.94, :46.75, 1:10.61.
My Best Brother won for the third consecutive time after beginning his career with three losses in a row. He is 3-for-4 on turf, winning a one-mile optional claiming allowance race at the Oceanside distance in similar front-running fashion June 28. His streak began with a 2 1/2-length tally over maiden special weights going six furlongs May 17 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
After increasing his earnings to $133,090, My Best Brother returned $14, $7.40, and $4.40 as the fourth choice in the field of eight. Irish-bred Tones, a stakes winner on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita in February, paid $13.60 and $6.80. The exacta was worth $159.40. Glen Hill Farm's Old Time Hockey paid $3.60 to show.
In the $109,300 first division, Zetcher's stalking Midnight Crooner dug in for the final strides to edge determined front-running Chips All In by a neck (VIDEO). Midnight Crooner ran the one-mile distance in 1:34.74 over a firm Del Mar course.
Bob Baffert trains the bay son of War Chant who is out of the Groom Dancer mare Midnight Kiss. Baffert said Midnight Crooner would be pointed to to the Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) Sept. 2, a race that Midnight Interlude lost by a nose to Banned last year.
Rafael Bejarano was aboard Midnight Crooner, who won a one-mile optional claiming allowance test on the grass at Betfair Hollywood Park May 6. Midnight Crooner had been working at Santa Anita Park for his return.
Chips All In, breaking from the outside in the field of seven after a pair of scratches, battled Canuletmedowneasy for six furlongs before gaining a narrow advantage in upper stretch. Chips All In led by a length at mid-stretch as Midnight Crooner, racing in third into the lane, rallied under urging from Bejarano.
“He’s a better horse on grass, for sure," Bejarano said. "I had a beautiful trip today. I followed (Chips All In) all the way around.”
Fractions were :22.99, :47.46, and 1:10.96.
Chips All In, ridden by Alonso Quinonenz, finished three-quarters of a length in front of Koast and Julien Leparoux. Blingo was a mildly closing fourth, followed by 2-1 choice Boat Trip, Facoltoso, and Canuletmedowneasy.
Midnight Crooner improved to 3-0-1 in seven starts with earnings of $128,765. The colt paid $10.20, $5.40, and $3.60 while carrying co-high weight of 121 pounds as the fourth choice. Chips All In returned $8.80 and $5.20 while completing a $82.40 exacta. Koast paid $3.80.
Guidopanzini and and You Know I Know scratched.
Del Mar's reported attendance marked the eighth consecutive year that its opening-day crowd increased. It topped last year's record of 46,588. Del Mar races for 37 days.