Del Mar racing fans will get their usual double dose of stakes action as the seaside track opens its 66th season Wednesday with two divisions of the Oceanside Stakes, the perennial opening-day feature for 3-year-olds going a mile on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.The race has been run in divisions 21 times since 1980.The first division, with a field of nine entered, will be run as the sixth race on the day's nine-race card, and the second, featuring 10 horses, will be the eighth race. Each carries a purse of $75,000.Headlining the first division are Avanti Avanti and Steal Your Thunder, both of whom come into the race off victories at Hollywood Park. Avanti Avanti will be making his third start in the United States for owner Red Oak Stable of John Brunetti and trainer Ron McAnally, while Steal Your Thunder seeks his third career win for owner Warren Williamson and trainer Carla Gaines. David Flores will ride the McAnally entrant and Victor Espinoza gets the call on Gaines' charger.Adding an international flavor to the race will be the presence of Italian-bred Becrux, owned by Team Valor Stables, Gary Barber and Emilio Balzarini. Becrux, who has a record of five wins in nine lifetime starts, will be making his second start in North America and gets the saddle services of Hollywood Park riding champion Garrett Gomez.The field for the first division of the Oceanside Stakes, with weights and riders, is:
1--Eastern Sand, 117, Alex Solis
2--Legal Precedent, 121, Corey Nakatani
3--Talking to John, 119, Tyler Baze
4--Lucky Bid, 117, Rene Douglas
5--Leo Getz, 117, Patrick Valenzuela
6--Becrux, 121, Garrett Gomez
7--Avanti Avanti, 121, David Flores
8--Stedfast McStaunch, 121, Danny Sorenson
9--Steal Your Thunder, 121, Victor Espinoza.Seven of the 10 heading into the Oceanside's second division come in from victories, six at Hollywood Park and one at Santa Anita. Included in those expected to go to the gate is the undefeated El Roblar, who steps into stakes company for the first time for Stonestreet Stables and trainer Richard Mandella. Alex Solis will ride the son of War Chant, who is making his first start on the turf.Another standout in the field figures to be Juliesugardaddy, winner of three straight races in which he vanquished Osidy, Dover Dere, Khyber Pass and Talking to John. His regular rider, Alex Bisono, will be in the irons.
The other winners coming into the race are Khyber Pass, Dante's Inferno, County, Standing Brave and In Excelsis.The field for the first division of the Oceanside Stakes, with weights and riders, is:
1--Mighty Empire, 117, Victor Espinoza
2--Khyber Pass, 121, Garrett Gomez
3--Dante's Inferno, 117, Danny Sorenson
4--This Wizard Rocks, 121, Martin Pedroza
5--County, 121, Corey Nakatani
6--Juliesugardaddy, 121, Alex Bisono
7--Standing Brave, 117, Jose Valdivia Jr.
8--In Excelsis, 121, David Flores
9--Mr. Wolverine, 117, David Cohen
10--Roblar, 119, Alex Solis.