DEL MAR, Calif. - Sigfreto, the longest shot in the field, and Dr. Park, the favorite, won divisions of the Oceanside Stakes on Wednesday, the opening day of the Del Mar meeting.
The turf stakes were the highlight of a program that drew an ontrack crowd of 33,526, the third-highest attendance in track history, surpassed by the 1996 Pacific Classic and the opening day in 1994. The overall handle of $12,424,184 was an increase of 8.4 percent over 2000.
"I think it gives it a positive flavor for the rest of the meeting," said track president Joe Harper.
One problem on opening day was the long lines at betting windows, which Harper said led to longer time between races.
"We kept taking more time, but we had everyone we could find working," he said. "Transaction time goes up on a day like today."
*Sigfreto ($80.40) won the $87,100 first division of the Oceanside, which was a profitable result at the windows for trainer Doug Peterson.
"I don't let them run without me," Peterson said. "It's like buying insurance."
Ridden by Matt Garcia, Sigfreto emerged between horses on the final turn to post the upset, finishing a mile on turf in 1:35.90.
Starting from the rail in the 10-horse field, Sigfreto ran wide for the final half-mile, and had to wait for room entering the stretch.
"I knew he was full of run," Peterson said. "I knew if Matt could sit a little longer he'd make a run."
Sea to See, who was prominent in midstretch, finished second, a half-length in front of Mister Approval, the 8-5 favorite.
The Oceanside was Sigfreto's first stakes win in 11 starts. He was purchased privately by Richard O'Neill and Peterson for $125,000 in late May and finished a troubled fourth in the Ascot Handicap at Bay Meadows on June 10 in his first start for them.
Peterson said Sigfreto would be pointed for the $300,000 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 3. "I think the benefit I have is I have a little time," he said.
Dr. Park ($6.40) closed from fifth in the final quarter-mile to win the $87,100 second division.
Ridden by Tyler Baze, Dr. Park finished in a quick 1:34.47.
The Oceanside was Baze's first stakes win at Del Mar. It came on the same day he was involved in a two-horse spill after clipping heels in early stretch of the second race.
Baze brought Dr. Park wide turning for home and caught Euribor in the final sixteenth. "He took off like a rocket," Baze said. "You can tell he likes this course. I think we'll win some more races."
Our Main Man, who was eighth turning for home, finished third, a length behind Euribor.
The Oceanside was Dr. Park's first win since he finished in a dead-heat in the Grade 3 Will Rogers Stakes at Hollywood Park on April 20. In between, he finished second on a soft turf course in the USA Stakes at Lone Star Park for owner CRK Stable and trainer John Sadler.
"I think he's one of the best 3-year-olds on the country on turf," Sadler said.