Before the largest opening-day crowd in Del Mar history -- 40,682 -- two English-bred 3-year-olds won divisions of the featured Oceanside Stakes at one mile on Del Mar's infield grass course. Sweet Return, owned by Red Oak Stable and trained by Ron McAnally, scored by a length under jockey Corey Nakatani in the stakes record time of 1:33 4/5. The final time eclipsed the 1:34.14 run by Rock Opera in the first division of the Oceanside last year. Singletary, the 4-5 favorite under Pat Valenzuela, was a game second, with Requite third in a field of nine sophomores. Sweet Return, a son of Elmaamul, was winless in four American starts since being imported from England. He returned $12 while earning $51,180 from a gross purse of $85,300. "This horse has had several troubled trips," McAnally said. "It seems like the only time he didn't have a bad trip was when he was beat at Santa Anita [Jan. 31, by Just Wonder]. I thought all along the favorite was the one to beat. I liked where we were in the race, just a little bit behind the leaders. I told Corey [jockey Corey Nakatani] to take his time with him and save ground. He rates real well. I'm not sure where we'll run next." Asked about the Del Mar Derby and how he thinks his horse rates, the trainer responded, "I think he's as good as anything we've seen around here."In the second division, Hall of Famer Julie Krone, competing for the first time at Del Mar, urged Devious Boy to a half-length victory over 3-2 favorite Fairly Ransom, thus denying McAnally a sweep of the Oceanside divisions today. Stanley Park, well-regarded second choice at 2-1, was third, only another half-length behind the runner-up. Devious Boy, a son of Dr Devious owned by James R. Vreeland and conditioned by Kathy Walsh, accomplished the distance in 1:34 3/5 and paid $21.40 while earning $50,580 from a total purse of $84,300. A field of seven went postward after the scratches of Royal Place and Banshee King. "This (win) was really special for me," said an emotional Krone. "When I was pulling up afterward, I started to tear up. There have only been a few times in racing where I've ever done that. But today was one of them. I have been injured and have had to work so hard to come back. And it is so gratifying to have this happen, and have it happen here at Del Mar. Today is a special day and it feels so good to be back."
"I was concerned when Mike Smith's horse (Stanley Park) came on the inside [in the stretch], but I knew this horse had a lot left in him," said trainer Walsh. "We'll see how he comes out of the race before we decide what's next, but the (Del Mar) Derby is very likely."Wednesday's Del Mar attendance was exceeded only by the 44,181 that turned out in 1996 when Dare and Go upset Cigar in the Pacific Classic. The previous largest opening-day crowd at Del Mar was 37,439 a year ago. Because there were no perfect Pick Six tickets today, there will be a carryover Thursday of $165,313.(Chart, Equibase)