Updated on 09/16/2011 7:52AM

Styles differ for Oceanside victors


DEL MAR, Calif. - With frontrunners and closers, jockeys Laffit Pincay, Jr. and Patrick Valenzuela ended lengthy droughts in the Oceanside Stakes with victories in divisions of the opening day stakes at Del Mar on Wednesday.

Pincay's win in the first division aboard the frontrunning Rock Opera was his first in the race since 1987. Valenzuela scored his first Oceanside victory since 1989 when True Phenomenon rallied from the back of the field to win the second division.

Both winners figure to return in the $300,000 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 7.

Rock Opera ($7.20) led throughout the $82,800 first division and set a stakes record of 1:34.14 for one mile on turf. Rock Opera set fractions of 23.79 and 47.46 and won by three-quarters of a length over an unlucky Johar who was blocked on the final turn.

Rock Opera has won 3 of 4 starts and $115,680 for owners Lynn Ballantyne and Randy Welty and trainer Clifford Sise. In past races, Rock Opera had been rank on turns, but he had no trouble on Wednesday.

"He's getting better all the time," said Pincay, who rode three winners on Wednesday. "He makes the turns better and he had enough to hold them off."

Johar closed 2 1-2 lengths in the final furlong. He finished a length in front of Mountain Rage, who was the 6-5 favorite on the strength of a four-race winning streak in turf stakes.

In the $84,300 second division, True Phenomenon gave Valenzuela his first stakes win at Del Mar since 1996. Wednesday marked the first time Valenzuela has ridden here since 1997 due to a series of suspensions for substance abuse problems.

True Phenomenon ($13.20) was at the back of the field until early stretch when Valenzuela launched a wide rally that led to a one-length win over Dream Machine in 1:34.52.

"I worked him to the outside and he fired," Valenzuela said. "He felt great.

This is great to be back at Del Mar."

A French import trained by Bobby Frankel for Stonerside Stable, True Phenomenon was making his third start in the U.S. He was fourth in the Will Rogers Stakes and sixth in the Affirmed Handicap on dirt at Hollywood Park.

Dream Machine, a French import making his U.S. debut, rallied from last to finish three-quarters of a length in front of Diamond Hope.