ARCADIA, CA – Hronis Racing’s Cistron made a successful return in more ways than one on Saturday, winning his first start since July 27 and his first turf appearance in over a year in the $100,000 San Simeon Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park.

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Breaking from post 4 under Victor Espinoza at 4/1 odds, Cistron initially aimed for the lead, but Espinoza soon took back after the field’s lone female, Surrender Now, beat them to the punch. Surrender Now posted opening fractions of :22.08 and :44.91 while the 1/2 favorite Bound for Nowhere tracked from her right hip.

At the top of the stretch, Bound for Nowhere ranged up and took command while Surrender Now began to fade. Behind them, Espinoza tipped Cistron out to run three-wide before commencing a rally toward the front.

Inching up alongside the bettors’ choice in mid-stretch, Cistron battled gamely with the stubborn Bound for Nowhere, who refused to yield without a fight. In the shadow of the wire, Cistron surged forward before crossing a head in front.

Trained by John Sadler, Cistron posted a final time of 1:02.68 for the 5 1/2-furlong sprint over the firm turf course.

Cistron (lefts) heads Bound for Nowhere for the win (Credit: Benoit Photo)

“It’s all about timing and confidence,” Espinoza said. “I know this is a good horse and he broke sharp, but when that mare outside of me went so fast, I thought I didn’t want to empty the tank too early. I gambled a little bit and it worked out great.”

Though he ran seemingly too well to lose before coming up just short at the wire, Bound for Nowhere was 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Murad Khan in third. The Jeff Bonde-trained duo of King of Speed and Sparky Ville were a neck apart in fourth and fifth, respectively.

Making his first start since joining the Richard Mandella barn, the 2018 Fourstardave Handicap (G1) winner Voodoo Song was unable to finish better than sixth, outlegging only a fading Surrender Now to complete the order of finish.

Cistron’s win improved upon his second-place effort in last year’s running (which happened to be his last turf appearance) and improved his overall record to 28-6-7-6 with $760,719 earned. The versatile 6-year-old son of The Factor won his first two graded stakes in 2019: the Kona Gold (G2) and the Bing Crosby (G1), both over the dirt.

“He’s been away since last summer and we needed a spot to run him in,” said assistant trainer Juan Leyva. “He’s run well on the grass before, and with this race being 5 1/2 (furlongs) instead of 5, we thought it would be okay. It’s great to have him back and get him going again.”

Cistron returned $10.80 to win, $3.40 to place, and $2.80 to show. Bound for Nowhere brought back $2.40 to place and $2.10 to show, while Murad Khan paid $2.80 to show.