Del Mar will return its entire stakes roster for the 2010 season, offering 31 major races and 11 overnight events during the seaside track's 71st summer of Thoroughbred sport beginning July 21 and running through September 8.
All told, the 31 "advertised" stakes carry a value of $6,275,000, while the 11 overnights -- each worth $75,000 -- will offer an additional $825,000 in purses, making for a grand total of $7,100,000 in stakes monies during the 37-day stand. For the second consecutive year, the shore oval will race on a five-day-per-week basis between Wednesdays and Sundays with the lone exception being its card on Labor Day Monday, September 6.
In a bow to the realities of the racing business both in California and across the country, 13 of the track's major stakes took cuts in their 2009 values this season. But that was not so in the case of Del Mar's signature event, the $1,000,000 Pacific Classic, a mile and a quarter for 3-year-olds and up. The 20th edition of the showcase test was able to maintain its lucrative purse through a creative sponsorship with TVG, the national television and advanced deposit wagering company. The race, which has been scheduled as part of a blockbuster card on Saturday, August 28, will be offered as the Pacific Classic, Presented by TVG.
Joining the track's premier attraction that afternoon will be two other major races for 3-year-olds and up, the $300,000, Grade I Pat O'Brien Stakes at seven furlongs and the $250,000, Grade II Del Mar Mile on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.
"We are delighted we were able to maintain our million dollar purse on the Pacific Classic and we salute the folks at TVG for helping us to make it happen," said Del Mar's executive vice president for racing and industry relations/racing secretary, Tom Robbins. "We did have to trim back some of our stakes as we adjust purses in our current environment, but all in all I'm proud of the fact that we didn't lose any of our principal races and are looking forward to another successful summer."
In a move many racing fans indicated they wanted to see, the track has returned the Del Mar Futurity -- for many years its closing-day feature, but last year presented on Labor Day Monday -- to its final-day location on Wednesday, September 8. The $250,000, Grade I test for 2-year-olds is run at seven furlongs and often shines an early spotlight on potential Breeders' Cup and/or Triple Crown stars.
The sister race to the Futurity -- the $250,000, Grade I Darley Debutante -- will again be run on Saturday (September 4) of Labor Day weekend. The 2-year-old filly headliner is once more being sponsored by Darley, the world-wide racing and breeding operation of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai. In recent years the race has been a major steppingstone for seven different Juvenile Filly Eclipse Award winners.
Of the 13 stakes that were trimmed on this year's schedule, one was cut back $25,000 (Cougar II Handicap now at $125,000) and another by $100,000 (John C. Mabee Stakes now at $250,000). The other 11 all were reduced by $50,000. They are (with 2010 values): $300,000 Eddie Read Stakes, $200,000 San Diego Handicap, $250,000 Bing Crosby Stakes, $300,000 Del Mar Oaks, $150,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap, $250,000 Del Mar Mile, $200,000 Del Mar Handicap, Darley Debutante, $300,000 Del Mar Derby, $150,000 Palomar Handicap and Del Mar Futurity.
All of Del Mar's overnight stakes have been reduced by $10,000 to $75,000 each for the 2010 season. Further, the track had one graded race -- the John C. Mabee -- downgraded from a Grade I to a Grade II since last summer, but another ungraded event -- the Cougar II -- moved up to Grade III status. The track now has a total of 20 graded stakes -- eight Grade I's, nine Grade II's and three Grade III's.
Besides the stakes tripleheader on August 28, the track also has scheduled major stakes doubleheaders on Sunday, July 25 ($100,000 California Dreamin' Handicap and the $150,000 San Clemente Handicap); Saturday, July 31 ($100,000 Fleet Treat Stakes and the San Diego Handicap); Sunday, August 22 (Rancho Bernardo Handicap and $100,000 Solana Beach Handicap); Sunday, September 5 ($100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes and Del Mar Derby), and Monday, September 6 ($100,000 I'm Smokin Stakes and Palomar Handicap).
Additionally, eight Del Mar stakes have again been designated "Win and You're In" contests, offering the victorious horses automatic starting spots in their corresponding Breeders' Cup championship races, which well be held this year at Churchill Downs on Friday and Saturday, November 5 and 6. The eight Del Mar races are: San Diego Handicap, Cougar II Handicap, John C. Mabee Stakes, Del Mar Mile, Del Mar Handicap, Rancho Bernardo Handicap, Pat O'Brien Stakes and Pacific Classic.
The entire stakes schedule can be found at http://www.dmtc.com/racinginfo/stakes.php.