Irish-bred Queen of The Sand, the 3-1 second choice in a field of a dozen older fillies and mares, rallied from far back under a beautifully-timed ride by Hall of Famer Mike Smith to win the $84,350 Kathryn Crosby Stakes, feature race Friday on opening-day of Del Mar’s inaugural fall Bing Crosby Season.
Tenth in the early stages of the one-mile contest over the Jimmy Durante Turf Course, Queen of The Sand commenced a charge with slightly more than three furlongs remaining, hit the front in the upper stretch and drew out impressively to score by 2 ¼ lengths in 1:34.56 for the distance.
Gender Agenda, under Kieren Fallon, competing at Del Mar for the first time in his successful career, was runner-up, a length in front of early pacesetter Kathleen Rose, with Oscar Party another head back in fourth. Kitten’s Point, the 5-2 favorite, was a non-threatening eighth.
Queen of The Sand, a four-year-old daughter of Footstepsinthesand, is owned by Derrick Fisher and conditioned by Paddy Gallagher. The victory was her seventh in 20 career outings and first money of $47,940 increased her earnings to $193,670.
To her backers in the crowd of 11,513 on a picture perfect afternoon, she returned $8.40, $4.80 and $3.60. Gender Agenda paid $9.80 and $6.20, while Kathleen Rose paid $4.60 to show.
Smith was one of three riders to double on the first day of the new 15-day meeting at Del Mar. Smith preceded his victory on Queen of The Sand by winning the seventh aboard Ashleyluvssugar. Doubles also were recorded by Tyler Baze on Wild Caroline in the first and Up the Alley in the sixth, while Trujillo clicked aboard Oscillator in the fourth and Heat the Rocks in the ninth.
Racing continues Saturday with post time at 12 noon for the first of nine races.
Kathryn Crosby Stakes Quotes
MIKE SMITH (Queen of The Sand, winner) – “She warmed up extra special today; really on her toes. She can be quiet with that (her warm-up), but today she was ready. From riding her before, I know the trick is to make her happy early. Then she gets in that rhythm on her own; she starts opening up her stride. She just went on about it today. I think she likes it here at Del Mar in November. I know I do.
“And the turf course is brilliant. It just is really good. I thought it was good this past summer, but it’s better now. Really quiet out there; you can’t hear them at all. Like riding with earplugs.”
KIEREN FALLON (Gender Agenda, second) – “She broke too well on me. I wanted to get her in behind horses and covered up, but she was away so well I had to go on. She ran her race, but Mike (Smith) just ran right on by us.”
RAFAEL BEJARANO (Kathleen Rose, third) – “She made a nice early lead, but I got pressed. I was afraid I would, and I did. She tried her best and hung on pretty good.”
PADDY GALLAGHER (Queen of The Sand, winner) – “She liked this turf course last summer. I galloped her on it earlier this week and she got a prescription for the grass again. She’s stabled here and I think she might stay. The Matriarch (Grade I, $300,000, November 30) might be a big step up for her, but we’ll take a look at it.”
FRACTIONS: :22.22 :46.12 1:10.53 1:22.52 1:34.56
This was the inaugural running of the Kathryn Crosby Stakes.
The stakes win was Mike Smith’s 48th overall at Del Mar.
The stakes win was Paddy Gallagher’s 11th at Del Mar.