Before the largest crowd to attend the races in California this year, Gervinho and Rising Legend shared honors by winning divisions of the featured Oceanside Stakes for three-year-olds on opening day of the 2013 racing season at Del Mar.
In front of an enthusiastic crowd of 43,030, Gervinho, piloted by Rafael Bejarano, rallied from mid-pack to edge 14-1 longshot Greeley Awesome by a neck in the first division of the Oceanside at one-mile over the infield Jimmy Durante Turf Course. Freakin Rocket was third, with 9-5 favored Undrafted settling for fourth after a troubled trip.
Gervinho, a son of Unusual Heat owned by Keith Brackpool and trained by Carla Gaines, ran the distance in a fast 1:33.88 and returned $7.80. $4.80 and $3.60 after scoring his third victory in five starts. First money of $67,140 from a gross purse of $113,150 increased his earnings to $219,140.
“I knew I was in good shape when he cut loose,” said Bejarano. “He was ready for this mile today.”
In the second division, jockey Julien Leparoux rallied English-bred Rising Legend from far back in the pack to win by a head over Gabriel Charles, with Olympic Blue third and early pacemaker Rosengold fourth. Den’s Legacy, the 2-1 betting choice, was sixth.
Rising Legend, making his first start since last November, stepped the one-mile distance in 1:33.96 and returned $17.60, $7.80 and $5.20 with his third success in eight career races. First prize of $66,900 from a total purse of $112,500 increased the colt’s earnings to $112,463. The son of Rock of Gibraltar is owned by Hronis Racing and conditioned by John Sadler.
“He’s a nice horse, and he’s got a great late kick,” said Leparoux. “Just what you want from a turf horse.”
Joel Rosario, leading rider in America thus far this year and a three-time Del Mar champion, was the day’s star as he booted in four winners. He swept the daily double aboard the Peter Miller-trained Casa de Cambio ($12.80) and Keep Movin ($10.60), won the fifth astride Moving Desert at $9.80 and rodeLove de Car to win the eighth.
Rosario, who now campaigns on the East Coast after several successful years in the West, will be on the scene at Saratoga race course in upstate New York when that meeting commences Friday.