Del Mar opens its summer meet on Thursday. It also will run a fall meet in November.
A day later than usual, Del Mar launches its popular summer race meeting Thursday. But this year, the party does not stop Labor Day week.
Two months after the summer meeting closes Sept. 3, Del Mar will run a monthlong autumn meeting in November. The new meeting is part of a redistribution of racing dates following the closure of Hollywood Park last year.
“It’s a different year and a lot of uncertainty in all areas,” said track president Joe Harper. “We’ll learn some lessons and see how it works out.”
While the calendar has expanded, some things at Del Mar remain the same. Opening day will attract a rowdy crowd as always, and people-watching will be as much of a sport as the action on the track.
Thursday’s crowd will be massive – Harper expects more than 40,000 for the 10th consecutive year – and enthusiastic, with race fans in flip-flops and shorts congregating on the track apron and the hipster crowd filling the grandstand and angling for coveted spots in the clubhouse. There is always a chance that the track’s all-time record for attendance of 47,339 from opening day in 2012 could be surpassed.
For Thursday, there are 10 races, highlighted by the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf. The main race of the summer meeting is the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 24, which is expected to include Shared Belief, the champion 2-year-old male of 2013, and Game On Dude, the winner of the race last year.
The turf course is new, having been replaced and widened over the winter to accommodate larger fields. Del Mar will host the Breeders’ Cup for the first time in 2017, and a larger turf course was needed for that event.
Tom Robbins, the track’s vice president of racing, expects full fields for turf races. There has been no turf racing on the Southern California circuit since the end of the Santa Anita spring-summer meeting June 29. The two-week summer meeting at Los Alamitos that ended Sunday was limited to dirt racing.
Robbins said the new turf course has six rail settings at six-foot increments, ranging from the permanent position, or zero setting, to a temporary rail 30 feet out from the permanent position. The old turf course had three settings at seven-foot ranges, from zero to 14 feet.
Five-furlong turf sprints have become popular, but Robbins said he is uncertain how many will be offered. The races tend to cause more wear and tear on the course because the horses’ hooves hit the ground harder than in longer races run at slower paces.
“We’ll play it by ear,” Robbins said of the turf sprints.
Del Mar has usually opened on a Wednesday, but this year, opening day was pushed back a day after track officials said they wanted an additional day to prepare the facility following the closure of the San Diego County Fair, which was held on the property through July 6.
“It’s always a challenge from the end of the fair to the opening of our meeting,” Harper said. “That’s why we took the extra day. It’s been fairly smooth.”
An early influx of horses to the stable area, which opened last week, has encouraged Harper.
“Usually, they dribble in,” he said. “We had 1,000 horses here instantaneously.”
Almost 2,000 horses will be on the grounds for the meeting, which offers the highest purse levels on the circuit. Last year, fields averaged 8.79 runners per race, the highest since the 1995 season, which had 9.01 runners per race. The 1995 figure could be challenged, with large fields expected for races on the widened turf course.
Mike DempseyMike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders' Cup. The 2015 Triple Crown saw Mike correctly predict American Pharoah to win both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Mike nailed the Exacta and Trifecta in the Belmont Stakes. Mike had a solid 2014 Triple Crown race season, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick. Mike also had past succes in the Kentucky Derby, winning with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and rode his top picks, Super Saver and Street Sense, to the finish line in 2010 and 2007 respectively. No handicapper in the industry works harder to bring you analysis that produces profits at the track! Mike's Reports include his selections, detailed analysis, a fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire card. Join Mike daily with top picks from Aqueduct or Keeneland. You can also get his Weekend Best Plays Report in his Multi-Track package or sit at the track with him for 30 Days with his Monthly Horse Package!
HORSE RACING EXPERT
Jerry SessaJerry "Shots" Sessa has been involved in horse racing for over 30 years. He now brings his meticulous handicapping style to VegasInsider.com. When Jerry posts picks you are getting his best bets...when you win, he wins. Jerry opened the 2016 Triple Crown season by hitting his Derby Day best bet, Nyquist. He also nailed the Derby exacta for a $30.60 payout. On 4/16/16 at Keeneland, Jerry hit an $819 exacta that led to a $38k Trifecta & a $300k Super.
In the 2015 Belmont Stakes Jerry dominated races 8-11 by hitting a $4,400 Pick 4, 3 Daily Doubles, 2 Pick 3's and calling American Pharoah as the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years. Jerry is always looking to repeat his 2012 Triple Crown success, when he selected the winning horses for The Preakness and The Belmont Stakes. Jerry looks forward to working with everyone and making money for anyone who invests in his picks on a daily basis. Join Jerry daily with picks from
Aqueduct and Santa Anita
or choose a package that contains selections from Multiple Tracks for the LOW PRICE of $19.95! Or better yet, how about 30 Days of horse racing picks with his Monthly Racing Package for ONLY $99.95!
VegasInsider.com is not a gambling site, and does not accept or place wagers of any type. This website does not endorse or encourage illegal gambling. All information provided by this website is for news and entertainment purposes only. Any use of this information in violation of federal, state, provincial or local laws is strictly prohibited.
Activities offered by advertising links to other sites may be deemed an illegal activity in certain jurisdictions. This website assumes no responsibility for the actions by and makes no representation or endorsement of any activities offered by an advertiser.