For some horses, age is just a number.
In a time when many of his contemporaries have already retired, Hronis Racing’s Cistron is running better than ever. With one stakes victory and two other runner-up efforts already under his belt this season, the 5-year-old son of The Factor finally earned his first Grade 1 win in the $300,000, Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes July 27 at Del Mar.
The Bing Crosby is a “Win and You’re In” event for the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, giving Cistron an automatic berth into the championship race.
Despite initial reluctance to load into the gate, the John Sadler trainee settled into an early lead from the break. Guided by Victor Espinoza, Cistron set quarter-mile fractions of :22.10 and :45.16. Desert Law saved ground early on the rail and stalked Cistron before moving up to issue an early challenge but could not keep pace with leader who slowly inched away on the turn.
Making his first start for new owners Rockingham Ranch and David A. Bernsen — who purchased the 4-year-old for $510,000 from the Four Star Sales consignment to the July 8 Fasig-Tipton July selected horses of racing age sale — Jalen Journey made a tremendous late-running effort on the far outside. The gelding chased rivals in the four-path down the stretch but did not have enough left in reserve to threaten.
Urged forward by Espinoza, Cistron managed to hold his lead by a half-length at the finish line, completing the six-furlong race in 1:09.95 on a track rated fast.
“We were comfortable up there. He was running well on the lead,” Espinoza said. “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.”
“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. We’ve got so many moveable parts [versatile horses] I’m not sure what’s next, but if he runs again here it will be in the Pat O’Brien.”
Cistron opened 2019 with a fourth-place finish in the Jan. 1 Joe Hernandez Stakes at Santa Anita Park and his stakes efforts have improved steadily over the past six months. He took second in the March 31 San Simeon Stakes, won next out in the Grade 2 Kona Gold Stakes April 20, and was runner-up again in his most recent effort, the Grade 2 Triple Bend May 5.