Hronis Racing's Cistron took the lead at the start and never relinquished it in Saturday's Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes, earning his first top-level triumph by just under a length. The 5-year-old son of The Factor covered six furlongs over Del Mar's fast main track in 1:09.95 under jockey Victor Espinoza. Trained by John Sadler, Cistron was sent off at odds of 9-2. The victory earns him an expenses-paid berth to the Breeders' Cup Sprint this fall at Santa Anita Park.
“We were comfortable up there,” Espinoza said. “He was running well on the lead. I wanted to save something for the stretch and I was able to. I didn't get a lot of pressure up front and that helped. At the finish I still had lots of horse. He's an amazing horse.”
Cistron broke sharply from the gate, leading by about a length down the backstretch through a first quarter in :22.10. To his outside, Recruiting Ready and Chief Cicatriz kept close attention, while Desert Law traveled fourth down near the rail.
Maintaining his lead through a half in :45.16, Cistron had enough left in the tank to deny Desert Law by just under a length on the wire. Jalen Journey ran on from off the pace to finish third, and Air Strike came from last to check in fourth.
“The way we were drawn, we knew we'd have to go to the front,” said Sadler. “It looked like there was a lot of speed in the race, but we didn't really have a choice to change our style. Once he got away and got in the clear he gets energy from that. He had a super work over this track, a bullet, and he showed up for the big race today. We've got so many moveable parts (versatile horses) I'm not sure what's next, but if he runs again here it will be in the Pat O'Brien.”
Bred in Kentucky by St. George Farm, Cistron was a $180,000 yearling purchase at the Keeneland September sale. He won his first stakes race in April of 2017, and ran fairly consistently in stakes company until notching his first graded win in April of 2019, taking the G2 Kona Gold. Second last out in the G2 Triple Bend, Cistron got his first G1 win in the Bing Crosby. Overall, his record stands at 5-7-6 from 27 starts for earnings of nearly $700,000.
After the win, Espinoza reflected on the career-threatening injury he suffered at Del Mar just one year ago.
“I was thinking about that today,” he said. “Life is interesting, isn't it? How things happen; how they unfold. One thing I learned early in my career, you don't give up. You don't ever give up. And when I win a race, I enjoy it so much. Each win is special.”
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