Points Offthebench made his first venture into stakes company a successful one, winning the $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO), over Goldencents in a terrific fight to the wire July 28 at Del Mar.
The California-bred son of Benchmark, coming into the race with four wins from six starts for trainer Tim Yakteen, was no surprise in spite of the big jump in class. He was bet to 3-1 odds while facing a field that included Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Goldencents and grade I winners Jimmy Creed and Comma to the Top.
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith took Points Offthebench, who he was riding for the first time, wide coming into the stretch and they swept past Jimmy Creed in the drive. Goldencents, in a pocket behind the front-runners, waited for room to angle out and quickly challenged Points Offthebench but came up just short in a terrific finish.
"My first grade I winner," said a happy Yakteen. "It's been a long time, at least eight years. I didn't think I'd have to wait this long. He was training great, we drew a great post and he was ready for the task, so I felt confident going into the race. He ran huge and Mike gave him a great ride."
Final time for the six-furlong test on Polytrack was 1:09.04.
Donnie Crevier and Charles Martin own 4-year-old Points Offthebench, who was bred by Gary Rocks from the Free House mare Mo Chuisle.
The Crosby is a "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IT).
Goldencents, facing older horses for the first time and returning to sprinting for the first time since winning his debut at Del Mar last September, was made the slight 19-10 favorite. Jimmy Creed (5-2), Comma to the Top (3-1), and Points Offthebench were also strongly supported in the six-horse field.
Breaking from the outside post, Points Offthebench stalked on the outside mid-pack as Comma to the Top took the lead over Coach Bob, who would eventually get the advantage along the inside and clip off sharp fractions of :22.44 and :44.98 with Jimmy Creed in third. As the field progressed through the turn, Smith was waiting to pounce on the outside, with Goldencents saving ground to their inside with Kevin Krigger aboard.
Points Offthebench would get first run on Goldencents, who needed room between horses but couldn't find it. Krigger instead waited to edge out Goldencents, who, once clear, produced a powerful late burst. He could not get past Points Offthebench, who held on under strong handling in the final yards.
"Tim told me two things about him beforehand: He said don't make the lead too early with him and he'll need some help changing leads," Smith said after winning the Crosby for the second straight year. " This horse is still learning and I had to help him switch in the stretch. I made that lead and I knew that (Goldencents) was coming. But my horse dug back in. He's a good horse; he really is."
Smith won the 2012 Bing Crosby on former sprint champion Amazombie.
"I didn't have the best of trips out there," Krigger conceded. "When we turned for home, they fanned out in front of me and I had to make a choice. I thought for a second about trying to go down inside, but then I went out. I didn't want to get stopped in a race like this. He fired for me and ran really well."
Points Offthebench posted his third straight triumph this season, the earlier victories coming in allowance/optional claiming races. His most recent race was May 27 at Betfair Hollywood Park and he had been working in fine style since at Santa Anita Park and Del Mar. Those drills included a bullet five-furlong move at Del Mar July 14 in :59 3/5.
Points Offthebench nearly doubled his earnings with the Crosby win, now totaling $364,940. He carried 119 pounds and paid $8.80, $4.20, and $8.40, the show payoffs skewed by some heavy action in that pool on fifth-place finisher Comma to the Top.
Goldencents, fifth in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) in his most recent start May 18 for trainer Doug O'Neill, paid $3.60 and $6.60 while completing a $32.60 exacta.
It was 3 1/4 lengths back to third-place finisher Jimmy Creed, the 124-pound high weight under Rafael Bejarano. Jimmy Creed paid $7.20 to show.
Majestic City was fourth, followed by Comma to the Top and Coach Bob.