Tour De Force 'Classic' By 'Dude' Sparkling End To Week Six
Handicap star Game On Dude towroped his field in the 23rd edition of the $1-million TVG Pacific Classic Sunday, helping to put the cherry on the sundae that was Week Six of racing at Del Mar this summer.
The racy gelding ran off and hid by a record eight and a half lengths in the track’s premier offering of the summer, helping the track draw a Sunday crowd of 29,319 and a hearty run at the wickets that topped off at $19,750,728.
The numbers out of the track’s accounting department continued to show “ups” as the meet rolled thorough it 30th day Sunday. Total pari-mutuel handle for the session is now running 6.8% to the good, rising from a daily average of $11,966,073 in 2012 to $12,775,374 thus far.
Other handle figures that are positives include on-track betting at a plus-5.6% (a 2013 average of $2,530,490, as opposed to 2012’s $2,395,346) and total Advanced Deposit Wagering digits that are up 16.5% from last year’s $2,723,647 per card to $3,174,150.
The track’s attendance count is down a shade from a year ago -- 0.5% to be exact. Daily average attendance this year is now 18,122, putting it just a tad behind 2012’s mark of 18,209.
The track’s “Ship and Win” program continues to be a solid winner for the 2013 season. Through 30 days it has provided 124 starters with 21 of those winding up in the winner’s circle. Last year for the same time period, there were 121 “S & W” starters, but only 11 of them had won races. This year’s first-race bonus is better for those horses, also. In 2012 it was 25%, but this year it has risen to 33-1/3%.
Field size – a strong factor in determining handle – continues to run ahead of the 2012 standard. Last year through six weeks (30 days), Del Mar had presented 261 races with 2,210 starters for an average of 8.5 horses per race. This year, though, those same 261 races have showcased 2,272 starters, meaning the per-race average is up to 8.7.
The track’s jockey crown is all but in the back pocket of Peruvian ace Rafael Bejarano, who now has 41 firsts through 30 days of sport. His closest pursuer – Martin Garica – has 24 winners, including his stakes tallies Sunday in the Pacific Classic with Game On Dude and the Pat O’Brien Stakes with Fed Biz. Should Bejarano win the title, it would be his third after taking crowns at the seashore in 2008 and 2012.
The trainer’s battle is closer, but John Sadler is holding a solid lead with only seven racing days remaining. The already two-time Del Mar champ (2008-2009) shows 23 firsts through six weeks to lead several close challengers, chief among them Doug O’Neill and Bob Baffert, both of whom has 18 wins. Baffert teamed up with Garcia to win both the Pacific Classic and the Pat O’Brien Sunday.
Del Mar’s 37-day run continues Wednesday with first post scheduled for 2 p.m. It will be the track’s only six-day week as racing also will be held on Monday, September 2, which is Labor Day.