07/18/2013 3:10PM

Del Mar notes: Oceanside winners may face off

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Benoit & Associates
Before his Oceanside victory, Rising Legend had not started since finishing second in the Generous Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park last November.

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DEL MAR, Calif. – Rising Legend and Gervinho, largely absent from racing the first half of the year because of injury, made up for lost time with wins in divisions of the Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar on Wednesday’s opening day.

Their victories could lead to a possible matchup in the $150,000 La Jolla Handicap on Aug. 10 or the $300,000 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 1.

Gervinho, sidelined because of a knee injury last fall, won the first division of the one-mile turf race in 1:33.88, finishing a neck in front of Greeley Awesome. Rising Legend won the second division in 1:33.96, holding off a late charge from Gabriel Charles to win by a nose.

Gervinho gave owner Keith Brackpool his first stakes win of 2013. Brackpool, the former chairman of the California Horse Racing Board, is the chief executive of Santa Anita Park.

Trained by Carla Gaines and ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Gervinho was second in the Silky Sullivan Stakes at Golden Gate Fields last month, his first start since November.

“That race set him up perfect for this,” Brackpool said.

Gaines said on Thursday she was leaning toward starting Gervinho in the Del Mar Derby, run at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

“That would probably be the way to go,” Gaines said. “It would give him more time between races. The question mark is the distance.”

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Greeley Awesome races for Kosta Hronis and trainer John Sadler and has been ridden by Julien Leparoux. That team rebounded with Rising Legend, who had not started since finishing second in the Generous Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park last November.

“He just needed time,” Hronis said of the layoff. “This is where the 3-year-old turf races are.”

Sadler said on Thursday that Greeley Awesome or Rising Legend could start in the La Jolla.

“We’re thinking of the La Jolla,” Sadler said. “They both ran well.”

Hronis was the leading owner of the winter-spring meeting at Santa Anita and the spring-summer meeting at Hollywood Park, finishing the meeting with 11 wins and purse earnings of $479,190. He has a goal of having the same distinction at Del Mar.

“We won Santa Anita,” Hronis said. “We won Hollywood Park, so we’ll see what happens.”

Hronis will have a busy weekend. He has Barocci and Vagabond Shoes in Saturday’s $300,000 Eddie Read Stakes and plans to start Iotapa in Sunday’s $150,000 San Clemente Stakes.

Bigger crowds courted

From the winner’s circle, Brackpool looked out on Del Mar’s massive ontrack crowd of 43,030 and said he hopes that Santa Anita will have an equally strong audience for the Breeders’ Cup on Nov. 1-2.

“If I can better this, it would be with 60,000 people [on a Saturday] in November,” Brackpool said.

Brackpool said that if a sustained effort is not made to sell the ontrack experience of racing by all racetracks “the sport won’t make it.”

Toward that goal, Santa Anita’s grandstand is undergoing renovations to the mezzanine level, and the Chandelier Room of the clubhouse is getting a makeover as well this summer. Those changes will be in place before the track’s autumn meeting begins in late September.

For Wednesday, though, Brackpool was focused on enjoying his stakes win.

“I love this sport with a passion,” he said. “It’s why I continue working and enjoying it.”

Talamo moves on

Joe Talamo is treating the spring-summer meeting that ended last weekend at Hollywood Park as ancient history.

Talamo went into the final week of the meeting – July 11-14 – with a four-race lead in the jockey’s standings, but was winless in the final four days. Talamo finished with 50 wins, one fewer than Rafael Bejarano and Edwin Maldonado, who tied for first.

Earlier this week, Talamo said he had largely put that disappointment behind him, choosing to focus on Del Mar.

“That was last week,” Talamo said. “I’m always optimistic, but it doesn’t seem like we had as live of horses as the other guy did at the end. We went down with a fight.”

Talamo said he preferred to focus on being the leading stakes rider at the meeting, with 10 wins.

“I think it builds a lot of momentum for the meeting,” Talamo said. “It’s about getting on live horses.”

Mandella pair work

Jimmy Creed, a two-time stakes winner at Del Mar earlier this year, could start in the $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes at six furlongs on July 28. Trained by Richard Mandella, 4-year-old Jimmy Creed worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 on Wednesday.

A few minutes later, Mandella worked Beholder five furlongs in 1:01.60. The champion 2-year-old filly of 2012, Beholder was second in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 3 in her last start. She is a candidate for the $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at a mile on Sept. 1.

Clubhouse Ride has options

Clubhouse Ride, winner of the Grade 2 Californian Stakes on June 1 but a disappointing fourth in the Hollywood Gold Cup on July 6, is a candidate for the $200,000 San Diego Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on July 27.

Wednesday, Clubhouse Ride worked five furlongs in 1:00.60.

Trainer Craig Lewis said he is dismissing the result in the Gold Cup. “It wasn’t his day,” Lewis said.

If Clubhouse Ride does not start in the San Diego, he is a candidate for the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 25.

“It depends on how he’s doing, who’s in there and what it looks like,” Lewis said.

◗ A poker tournament to benefit California Retirement Management Account, which provides funding for retired Thoroughbreds, will be held on Saturday at the Del Mar Hilton Hotel.

The fee to play in the tournament is $200. The organization’s website is CARMA4horses.org.