07/23/2003 11:00PM

Hall of Famers take Oceanside


DEL MAR, Calif. - It was Hall of Fame connections that won the two divisions of the Oceanside Stakes on Wednesday's opening day at Del Mar.

Jockey Julie Krone (induction class of 2000) rode her career first winner at Del Mar in the $84,300 second division aboard Devious Boy. Earlier, Sweet Return gave trainer Ron McAnally (class of 1990) his third winner in the Oceanside in the last five years.

The program drew a crowd 40,682, the highest opening-day attendance and the second-highest crowd in track history. The opening day of the 2002 meeting drew 37,439.

Krone, who turned 40 on Thursday, became the first female rider to win a stakes at Del Mar. The victory came eight months after she ended a retirement of 3 1/2 years and two weeks after she returned to riding after missing four months because of a back injury suffered in a spill at Santa Anita in March.

"I pulled up and I got a little teary-eyed," said Krone. "I've only had that happen a few times."

Riding for owner Jim Vreeland and trainer Kathy Walsh, Krone was always well placed aboard Devious Boy. Devious Boy, an English import, stalked pacesetter Royal Robe to the final turn, took the lead in early stretch, and won by a half-length over Fairly Ransom, the McAnally-trained 3-2 favorite who rallied from last. Stanley Park finished third.

Devious Boy ($21.40) finished a mile on turf in 1:34.73.

"The horse put me in the perfect spot," Krone said. "When we turned for home, he put his ears up and he heard the crowd. He leveled off like a sports car. They were coming after me, but my horse had plenty left."

After the race, Krone playfully leaped onto the shoulders of pro wrestler Goldberg, who presented the trophy and was signing autographs for fans. Later, Krone and jockey G.F. Almeida posed with the wrestler with him holding a jockey in each arm. Goldberg is a first cousin of trainer Marty Wolfson.

In the second division, Sweet Return won in a stakes-record 1:33.98. The Oceanside has been run at a mile on turf since 1986, often in divisions. The previous mark of 1:34.14 was set by Rock Opera in the first division last year.

Sweet Return ($12) was well-placed throughout the first division. Ridden by Corey Nakatani for Red Oak Stable, Sweet Return was third on the backstretch, circled pacesetter Obermeister on the final turn and caught Singletary at the eighth pole.

In the final furlong, Sweet Return pulled clear to win by a length over Singletary, who finished a length in front of the late-running Requite.

"I was pretty confident," Nakatani said. "He just leveled off and ran a big race."

* Wednesday's ontrack attendance was second only to the 44,181 that attended the Pacific Classic featuring Cigar on Aug. 10, 1996. The overall handle of $14,395,839 was an increase of 15.5 percent over last year's handle.

"I think the opening day at Del Mar has a life of its own," Harper said. "It's wonderful to see. It's nice to see the 40,000 show up. Hopefully, we got to expose the game to some new fans."