Bowies Hero, winner of the closing day Del Mar Juvenile Turf last summer, returned to the scene of his first important victory to win the $117,900 Oceanside Stakes Wednesday on the first day of the 2017 Del Mar racing season.
Opening-day attendance was 34,128, down 19.8 percent from 2016, when the Friday opener attracted 42,562. It was the smallest opening-day crowd since 2001, when 33,526 were on hand. Total handle of $16,374,230 fell by 13.1 percent from 2016, according to published reports.
With Tiago Pereira in the saddle for the Oceanside, Bowies Hero sliced between horses at the top of the stretch to secure running room, wore down 21-1 longshot Pioneer Lad in the final sixteenth and won clear by a length and one-half in 1:36.01 for the mile on the infield grass course.
Pioneer Lad, with Tyler Baze up, held on well in the stretch to be a length and one-half in front of Caribou Club who nosed out Grecian Fire for third place. Arms Runner, the 8-5 favorite, was seventh in the field of 13 three-year-olds. Withdrawn from the original field were Placido, Monster Man and Reign On.
Bowies Hero, a son of Artie Schiller owned by the partnership of Agave Racing and Hebert Bloodstock and trained by Phil D'Amato, was scoring his fourth triumph in seven starts. As the 3-1 second choice, the bay colt returned $8.80, $4.80 and $3.40. Pioneer Lad paid $14 and $9.40, while Caribou Club paid $9.60 to show.
First money of $70,740 increased Bowies Hero's total earnings to $201,325. Previously, he accounted for the Singletary Stakes at Santa Anita in early May.
Flavien Prat and Rafael Bejarano, who deadheated for the Del Mar riding title with 38 winners last summer, continued their duel as they each won three races prior to the Oceanside. Prat accounted for races one, three and four, while Bejarano had a consecutive triple, sweeping the fifth, sixth and seventh. Bejarano made it four for the afternoon by winning the tenth and final race.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2019 Paulick Report.