11/07/2014 8:29PM

Smith, Queen of The Sand win Del Mar's opening-day stakes

Benoit & Associates
This victory aboard Queen of The Sand in the Kathryn Crosby Stakes at Del Mar gave Mike Smith two winners on the Friday card.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Mike Smith did so well this summer at Del Mar he was probably the happiest guy in California there was a second meet this fall. Smith, the leading stakes-winning jockey during the summer, celebrated in style on Friday, opening day of the new fall meeting, by scoring twice, including in the $84,350 Kathryn Crosby Stakes with Queen of The Sand.

Queen of The Sand ($8.40), 10th of 12 the first part of the one-mile grass race for older fillies and mares, accelerated strongly on the turn and kicked clear of her rivals down the lane to post a 2 1/4-length victory over Gender Agenda, with Kathleen Rose third.

Kitten’s Point, the 5-2 favorite, finished eighth.

Queen of The Sand has raced five times in the United States since being imported from her native Ireland. Smith has ridden her three times, and won all three times. She is 0 for 2 with other riders.

“If you just go along with her and let her be happy, she just keeps giving it to you,” Smith said. “I never had to get in her mouth. She warmed up extra special today. She had a bounce in her step.”

Queen of The Sand completed one mile on the firm course in 1:34.56.

“The grass is brilliant,” Smith said.

During the summer meeting, grass racing twice was suspended owing to injuries.

“It was in good shape then, and it’s better now,” Smith said. “It’s like riding with ear plugs. You don’t hear nothing.”

Queen of The Sand is owned by Derrick Fisher, and trained by Paddy Gallagher.

The Kathryn Crosby concluded a nine-race card that drew an ontrack crowd of 11,513. The lower boxes were full, as was the turf club. Overall handle was $8,560,127.

The numbers didn't approach those of opening day during the Del Mar summer meet, but they soared past what Hollywood did on its opening day last fall. The handle was an increase of 46.8 percent from Hollywood's opener last year, which was on a Thursday compared to Friday. Del Mar has taken some of the fall racing dates that Hollywood traditionally ran before it closed last December.

“It was an enthusiastic crowd, a happy crowd,” said Joe Harper, Del Mar’s president and chief executive officer. “The flavor of the day was the success story. And it’s certainly a success as far as revenue is concerned.”