San Clemente Handicap (Grade II)
RAFAEL BEJARANO (Istanford, winner) – “I knew there was other speed in the race and I wasn’t expecting to be on the lead. But my filly broke so well and went right to the front and I just let her go. She was relaxed out there; she was running easy. That’s why she had that nice kick at the end. She wasn’t running that hard.
“This felt good. I’m feeling stronger now. When I rode here Opening Day (Thursday, 7/17 after being down several months due to injury), I felt good to ride, but not 100%. I’m feeling better now. I’ve been working hard and riding races gets you back in shape. Winning a stakes is very good. Good for my confidence. I’m back now.”
STEWART ELLIOTT (Tepin, second) – “She ran a heckuva race. I asked her to go through (on the inside) and she went. When we went for home, I thought we had a chance there. But that winner just went and kept on going.”
VICTOR ESPINOZA (My Conquestadory, third) – “I had a good trip. She was away just a little bit slow, but I got a good spot behind horses and she was fine with it. She ran well, especially when you consider it was her first time here. Watch out for her next time.”
MIKE STIDHAM (Istanford, winner) -- “With California speed we didn’t know who would be sending and who wouldn’t. I told Rafael (Bejarano) to break sharp and if you got the lead, fine, but if somebody else wants the lead let them have it. You saw what happened. Obviously, she loves this firm turf here. We’ll see (what’s next).We always nominate to a lot of stakes and we’ll be looking around. But the way she ran on this turf course, it’s (staying at Del Mar) something to think about.”
FRACTIONS: :23.13 :46.70 1:10.14 1:21.88 1:33.83
The San Clemente stakes record is 1:33.54 set by Storm Mesa in 2008.
The stakes win was the 38th of Rafael Bejarano’s career at Del Mar and his third in the San Clemente.
The win was the first stakes tally at Del Mar for trainer Michael Stidham.
The first three horses across the line were all “Ship and Win” horses from out-of-state. They each receive a $1,000 bonus for running at Del Mar, but none was eligible for a 33 1/3% winning bonus because it is a stakes race.