Istanford, a 10-1 outsider in the wagering despite the presence in the saddle of star jockey Rafael Bejarano, took control from the gate and never looked back in winning the featured Grade II $200,000 San Clemente Handicap Saturday at Del Mar.
Trained by Michael Stidham, a newcomer to Del Mar this summer, Istanford opened up at the top of the stretch and remained clear to the wire in scoring an impressive 2 ½ length triumph in 1:33.83 for the mile on the newly-expanded Del Mar grass course. The stakes record of 1:33.54 was set by Storm Mesa 2008.
Istanford was making her West Coast debut, having campaigned primarily in the Midwest. She won the Arlington Classic in May.
Trainer Mark Casse, also new to Del Mar, sent out the second and third-place finishers, Tepin, 18-1 under Stewart Elliott, and My Conquestadory, 5-2 with Victor Espinoza in the irons. Tepin was a length in front of her stablemate. Fourth in the field of a dozen three-year-old fillies was Diversy Harbor, the lukewarm 5-2 betting choice who was a half-length behind the third runner.
Istanford, owned by a partnership of Janet and Sam Alley, and Dawn and Ike Thrash, returned $22.80, $10.80 and $7 after scoring her fourth triumph in ten starts. First money of $120,000 increased her career earnings to $328,365.
Tepin paid $17.20 and $9.40, while stablemate My Conquestadory returned $3.60 to show.
The afternoon’s supporting feature, the $103,250 Osunitas Stakes for older fillies and mares, also was won by an invader from the Midwest, 11-1 Cozze Up Lady, ridden by Kent Desormeaux. The five-year-old Cozzene mare scored by a half-length over Warren’s Veneda, with Rhagori third in a field of a dozen horses.
Cozze Up Lady, trained by Keith Desormeaux, older brother of the jockey, ran the mile and one-sixteenth on grass in a stakes record a 1:39.95 and returned $24.20.
With one favorite winning in the Pick Six sequence, there was a single perfect ticket and it was worth $167,330.
Saturday’s attendance was 20,458.