Del Mar's Opening Week of Racing: Full, Competitive, Safe
Starting Gate Opening Day © Eclipse Sportswire
Del Mar’s 78th summer season was off and running in fine fashion with large fields, highly competitive racing and safe journeys for all of the track’s horses and riders. Wagering numbers followed that positive trend, breaking smartly and outfooting last year’s digits in all departments.
The opening week – Wednesday, July 19 to Sunday, July 23 – saw 45 races presented over the five-day span and they drew a total of 402 horses, an average of 8.9 per race, which is above last year’s average of 8.3 and solidly above the national average, also. More than a dozen of those runners were “Ship & Win” horses in from out of state thanks to the encouragement of a highly successful program that has brought nearly 1,000 horses to Del Mar and California since its beginning in 2011.
The track’s handle figures were up overall by 8.5% with a daily average of more than $13.5 million per afternoon. All departments – on-track wagering, inter-track wagering, advanced deposit wagering and out-of-state wagering – registered gains from 2016.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s executive vice president for racing and industry relations, Tom Robbins, saluted the track’s horsemen and their response to a new racing season as a key element in the strong start at the seaside oval.
“We’re very pleased with how well our horsemen have accepted and adapted to the changes and the pre-season work on our main track orchestrated by our new director of track maintenance Dennis Moore and his crew. We’ve also heard nothing but praise for the exceptional work (turf course superintendent) Leif Dickinson and his staff have done in preparing the course for the highly popular grass racing we offer throughout the summer.”
Del Mar presented a half-dozen stakes races during the first week, highlighted by an extraordinary running of the TVG San Diego Handicap on Saturday that saw overwhelming favorite Arrogate suffer a shocking defeat at the hands of Accelerate in a race that drew a national buzz and added a whole new dimension to the track’s $1-million TVG Pacific Classic scheduled for Saturday, August 19.
Racing resumes Wednesday with first post at 2 p.m.