The victory gave Kela's trainer, 56-year-old Mike Mitchell, his first victory in a Grade 1 race.
"It's nice to get that monkey off my back," said Mitchell, a six-time Del Mar training champion who primarily has trained claiming horses during his career.
Kela moved boldly on the turn to enter contention, then powered past favored Pohave a furlong out and won by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:08.51 on the fast main track. Hombre Rapido, who set blistering fractions of 21.45 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 43.96 seconds for a half, tired to finish third, 2 1/2 lengths behind Pohave.
Disturbingthepeace, who won this race in 2002, finished ninth, and Beau's Town, who won the Crosby last year, finished last in the field of 10.
Kela ($19.60) had finished fourth behind Pohave in the seven-furlong Triple Bend Handicap earlier this month at Hollywood Park. Mitchell was concerned the distance of the Crosby might be too short, but that was offset by jockey Tyler Baze keeping Kela outside horses, and away from the dirt clods he resents.
"If he's between horses taking dirt, he kind of refuses," Mitchell said. "It worked out good with Tyler going outside."
Kela, a son of Numerous, was purchased privately by Mitchell on behalf of owner Jay Manoogian nearly one year ago. Kela had previously been trained by Eduardo Inda and Larry Barrera. This was Kela's second victory in six starts for Mitchell. Overall, Kela is now 7-for-22, and he has finished first or second in five of six starts at Del Mar.
Beau's Town never made the lead and was done halfway through the race. "He broke in real bad, and when he didn't make the lead, that was it," said Mike Smith, who rode Beau's Town. "He cut his left front foot real bad, too."
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