Istanford, who would have been among the leading contenders in the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks (gr. I), instead romped to victory in the $96,350 Sandy Blue Handicap as the heavy favorite the evening of Aug. 15 (VIDEO).
Fresh from a front-running 2 1/2-length triumph in the San Clemente Handicap (gr. IIT), Istanford ran away with the one-mile Sandy Blue in gate-to-wire style under jockey Rafael Bejarano. Packing top weight of 124 pounds as the 13-10 choice in the field of 10 3-year-old fillies, the daughter of Istan won by 3 1/4 lengths in a time of 1:34.81 over firm turf.
Trainer Mike Stidham had entered Istanford in both the Sandy Blue and Del Mar Oaks, which is Saturday, but expressed reservations about the 1 1/8-mile distance of the grade I test.
Istanford is owned by Ike and Dawn Thrash and Janet and Sam Alley. The dark bay filly, bred in Florida by Hardacre Farm out of the winning Tale of the Cat mare Aerocat, earned $57,060 with her fifth victory in 11 starts. Now 2-for-2 over the Del Mar turf, she has banked $385,425 in her career.
"Ike and I hashed it over pretty hard and just decided that the mile was better for her," Stidham said. "I'm not going to say I'll never go longer than a mile with her—she beat boys going 1 1/16 miles at Arlington Park—but a mile is a good distance for her."
Purchased for $25,000 as a yearling at the 2012 Ocala Breeders’ summer sale, Istanford returned $4.60, $3.20, and $2.60. Miss Machiavelli paid $10.20 and $6.80, while Tiz Kissable returned $6.60 to show.
Miss Machiavelli, a 16-1 longshot under Kent Desormeaux, closed well to be runner-up, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Tiz Kissable, with Sheza Smoke Show fourth. Maibaby was scratched.