DEL MAR, CA – Hronis Racing’s Cistron gave Hall of Fame rider Victor Espinoza a win to remember when he put forth an ultra-tough effort to wire Saturday’s $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) at Del Mar.

The Bing Crosby is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Cistron receiving an automatic berth in the Sprint at Santa Anita Park this November.

Cistron broke fastest of the field of seven when exiting the gate at 9/2 odds and held the early lead while Chief Cicatriz and Recruiting Ready raced along his outside flank. Despite having the slight advantage, Cistron’s opening fractions were reasonable, coming in :22.10 and :45.16 as he began to separate from the pack in the far turn.

Given his cue near the 3/16 pole, Cistron straightened for home with a slight advantage but soon came under pressure from Desert Law. The pressure proved to be inconsequential, though, as Cistron held on gamely for the win. The John Sadler trainee completed the 6-furlong sprint over the fast main track in 1:09.95.

Credit: Ernie Belmonte

“We were comfortable up there,” said Espinoza after winning his fourth Bing Crosby. “He was running well on the lead. I wanted to save something for the stretch and I was able to. I didn’t get a lot of pressure up front and that helped. At the finish, I still had lots of horse. He’s an amazing horse.”

It was Espinoza’s first stakes win of the 2019 Del Mar meet and came just five days plus a year after he suffered serious injury here during a morning workout. Espinoza missed several months while recovering from a fractured vertebra in his neck.

“I was thinking about that today,” Espinoza said. “Life is interesting, isn’t it? How things happen; how they unfold. One thing I learned early in my career, you don’t give up. You don’t ever give up. And when I win a race, I enjoy it so much. Each win is special.”

Desert Law ran on for second, well ahead of Jalen Journey in third. Air Strike could only close into fourth by a 1/2-length ahead of Line Judge, while the 8/5 favorite Recruiting Ready and Chief Cicatriz wilted in the stretch to complete the order of finish. Calexman was scratched.

Cistron’s win was second in three starts, having won the 6 1/2-furlong Kona Gold Stakes (G2) two back before losing the 7-furlong Triple Bend Stakes (G2) to Air Strike by a head. The 5-year-old son of The Factor improved his career mark to 27-5-7-6 with $700,719 earned.

“The way we were drawn, we knew we’d have to go to the front,” Sadler said. “It looked like there was a lot of speed in the race, but we didn’t really have a choice to change our style. Once he got away and got in the clear, he gets energy from that. He had a super work over this track, a bullet, and he showed up for the big race today.”

Cistron returned $11.60 to win, $6.20 to place, and $4.20 to show. Desert Law brought back $6 to place and $4 to show, while Jalen Journey paid $4.20 to show.