Updated on 09/15/2011 1:39PM

Kona Gold best in Bing Crosby


DEL MAR, Calif. - Even before Kona Gold crossed the finish line in Sunday's $196,000 Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap at Del Mar, jockey Alex Solis was celebrating the victory.

After a grueling stretch run, Kona Gold caught Caller One in the final sixteenth to win his seventh consecutive stakes by a neck. A few strides before the line, Solis pumped his fist in the air and did so again after the wire.

"I just love this horse to death," Solis said. "I'm so proud of him."

The 2000 champion sprinter, Kona Gold's victory reaffirmed his status as the top sprinter. Owned by Irwin and Andrew Molasky, Michael Singh, and trainer Bruce Headley, Kona Gold was making his first start since winning the Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita on April 1.

Sent off at 4-5, Kona Gold was second on the backstretch behind Caller One, who set fractions of 22.02 and 44.27 seconds and led by as many as five lengths. Solis guided Kona Gold to the outside of Caller One entering the stretch and quickly put away Swept Overboard, who was alongside Kona Gold on the backstretch.

"The horse gave me a nice kick," Solis said. "At the eighth pole, Caller One was getting a little tired and I thought I had it won." Kona Gold ($3.80) finished six furlongs in 1:08.22 before a crowd of 20,443 who gave him a tremendous ovation when he returned to the winner's circle. Caller One lost for the first time since he finished second in the Malibu Stakes last December. Trained by Jim Chapman, Caller One had won the $2 million Golden Shaheen Sprint in Dubai and the Los Angeles Handicap at Hollywood Park in the spring.

Chapman wished Nakatani had urged Caller One on at the top of the stretch in an attempt to break Kona Gold's resolve.

"He would have had to run a little further to get him," Chapman said. "I think Nakatani should have kicked clear at the quarter-pole."

Nakatani said the track was not favorable to frontrunners. "I think the track is too loose," he said. "There wasn't a speed horse that won all day."

Swept Overboard finished third, a half-length behind Caller One and five lengths in front of Hollycombe. Ceeband and Freespool were scratched.

Kona Gold became the first horse to win two runnings of the Bing Crosby since Syncopate, who won in 1979 and 1981.

"When you win the Crosby twice, beat (Caller One) and go for 7, it's quite a thrill," Headley said. "It was outstanding."

*Above Perfection won her first stakes in the $100,000 Fleet Treat Stakes, a restricted race for 3-year-old California-bred fillies.

Ridden by Gary Stevens, Above Perfection ($3.40) was always prominent. She took the lead with a half-mile remaining, opened up a lead of 3 1-2 lengths in the stretch and held off the late rally of Lighten Up Tiny. Above

Perfection won by a head, finishing seven furlongs in 1:22.93. Re Vote finished third in the field of seven.

Trained by Darrell Vienna for David and Rita Milch, Above Perfection has won 4 of 5 starts and $194,020. Her only loss was a second to Xtra Heat in the Grade 1 Prioress Stakes at Belmont Park on July 4.

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