Exiting a fourth place finish in the Grade II Arroyo Seco Mile last month at Santa Anita, the 5-year-old son of Candy Ride saved ground while reserved off the moderate pace set by Oligarch, angled out for room in midstretch and prevailed by a neck as the even-money favorite.
Winning for the first time on turf in his third race over the surface, Kettle Corn completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.75. His seventh career win in 19 starts was worth $33,600, pushing his bankroll to $364,111.
Kettle Corn, who finished third behind Game On Dude and Richard’s Kid in the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup in July, paid $4, $2.60 and $2.10.
A six time winner in 2011, Kettle Corn is expected to attempt to defend his title in the Native Diver, which will be run for the 34th time Dec. 1. No horse has won the race twice.
Akkadian, who finished a half-length in front of Oligarch, returned $3 and $2.40. The show price on Oligarch was $2.20. Thirtyfirststreet, who was a neck behind Oligarch, and 20-1 outsider Quindici Man completed the order of finish.
Eight different riders won opening day. Besides Gomez, the other winners were Juan Hernandez, Aaron Gryder, Agapito Delgadillo, Rafael Bejarano, Edwin Maldonado, Joe Talamo and Tyler Baze.
Racing will resume Friday. Post time is 12:30 p.m. Track gates will open at 10 a.m.
The second day of the Autumn meet will also mark the first of six Fiesta Fridays. There will be Mexican food and drink specials between 2-4 p.m. and Gold Club members can enter to win a $100 mutuel voucher.