Published Thursday, June 13th, 2024   ( 4 weeks ago )

Oak Tree To Team With Del Mar For A Special Day Of Racing On Saturday, August 3

Clement L Hirsch | Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

Clement L. Hirsch

The Oak Tree Racing Association and the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club will partner this summer for a special day of sport that will provide extra value to horsemen and firm up the link between two of the iconic brands of West Coast Thoroughbred racing.

The key person between both groups is the late Clement L. Hirsch, who will be inducted this year into racing’s Hall of Fame in the prestigious Pillars of the Turf category.

That induction will take place on Friday, August 2. The following day, Del Mar will present Oak Tree Day at the Races featuring the $400,000, Grade I Clement L. Hirsch Stakes for fillies and mares – a race the Oak Tree group is supporting with $100,000 in purse money -- as well as five special races that each will provide an additional $9,500 in purse monies to be split between owners and trainers.

“We are delighted to team once more with the good people of the Oak Tree Racing Association,” said DMTC’s president and chief operating officer Josh Rubinstein. “Oak Tree was founded with the premise of horsemen helping horsemen and this is just the latest of many examples of that actualization over the years.”

Oak Tree was founded with Hirsch at the helm in 1968 and presented its first year of racing at Santa Anita in the fall of 1969. Their session filled a void in California racing at the time and in turn they channeled monies made from the meet into a string of positives for the sport in California, including equine hospitals on the backstretches of both Santa Anita and Del Mar and the commissioning of the horse ambulances used for equine transport.

Hirsch, working with John Mabee and other horsemen, also was a founding member of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in 1968. The DMTC began its highly successful run as the overseer of racing at Del Mar first in 1970 and has continued forward in that role to current day.

The Oak Tree Racing Association at Santa Anita went forward until 2009, but the group continued to be involved in California racing in positive ways. Currently its board consists of four individuals: veterinarian Dr. Rick Arthur; Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella; insurance executive and horse owner Tom Capehart, and Bo Hirsch, a horse owner and breeder and a son of Clement L. Hirsch.

The inaugural “Oak Tree Day” will provide payouts of additional purse amounts of $5,000 to winners, $3,000 to second and $1,500 to third in five non-claiming events over the course of the 11-race afternoon. Further, the group will provide $500 payments to the grooms of horses deemed “the best turned out” in all of the races that day.

“Our board is pleased and proud to be part of a special day like this at Del Mar,” said Dr. Arthur. “We were glad to provide the extra $100,000 toward the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes in recognition of the difficult purse situation the sport finds itself in currently in the state. And the monies we are putting toward owners and trainers in those individual races, along with the groom awards, are at the heart of what our group is about.”

The list of the positive contributions that the Oak Tree group has been part of in the industry is a long one. From its founding through today, Oak Tree has contributed nearly $25 million to support racing-related activities such as equine research at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Winner’s Foundation, Gregson Foundation and many others. One notable one was its $100,000 challenge toward the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation in 2015 that raised an additional $100,000 to honor the passing of its board member, Dr. Jack Robbins. More recently, Oak Tree joined Del Mar in helping to establish a unique feeding program for its full complement of backstretch workers last summer and fall, a hugely popular arrangement that the group will be part of once again this year.

Members of the Hirsch family – after attending Clement L. Hirsch’s induction into the Hall of Fame on August 2 in Saratoga Springs, New York – are hopeful of being on hand at Del Mar for the inaugural “Oak Tree Day.”

Del Mar will open its eight-week season on Saturday, July 20. Racing will go forward in its 85th summer season to Sunday, September 8.