By Hank Wesch
MAJOR PLAYERS MOVED IN, READY FOR BING CROSBY INAUGURAL
One day before the opening of the inaugural Bing Crosby Season of racing, several stables that could figure prominently in the 15 days of racing ahead appear primed for the action.
“Excited” was the word often heard from Peter Miller, Leandro Mora and Hall of Famer Richard Mandella on Thursday morning as they completed preparations for a day Southern California horsemen have anticipated since the closure of Hollywood Park – whose dates Del Mar inherited – last December.
“We’re here to run. We have to support this meet,” Miller said. “If you can’t support the business, you can’t complain when we’re all out of work. We’ve got a bunch of horses that are ready to run. I live 10 minutes from here so it’s kind of a home game for me.
“I think it’s just a great addition to the racing calendar. I hope it’s very successful and I think it will be.”
Miller, 48, a Carlsbad resident, shared the training title with Jerry Hollendorfer for the 2014 summer Del Mar meeting and was the leading trainer here in 2012. He considers being the first to win the Crosby title a realistic goal.
“I think we’ll have as good a chance as anybody,” Miller said. “It won’t be for lack of trying. We’re going to give it our best.” Miller will saddle four horses on opening day, the most of any trainer. Mora is one of five trainers with three representatives on the inaugural card.
Mora, longtime top assistant to Doug O’Neill, is in charge while O’Neill serves a suspension. The stable is located in the same corner of Barn Y as always. The 25 stalls allotted are more than a dozen fewer than the summertime, but in accord with plans and expectations.
"We’ve got just a handful here right now and they’ll all run in the next two days,” Mora said. “We’re going to see how they do and then we’ll decide which ones stay and which ones we (shuttle) between here and Santa Anita.”
Mandella has been a regular at the summer meeting for almost 40 years. His first stakes winner came, appropriately enough, in the Bing Crosby Handicap in 1978 with Bad ‘N Big.
“I’m excited to be here in November,” Mandella said. “I hope that we’ll get enough attendance and support to make it worthwhile, but it’s surely a great thing to be here.”
Mandella said his stable on the grounds consists mainly of young and developing horses. Like most trainers, the majority of his charges will remain off site and horses will be moved in and out as needed.
“With only three weeks it’s not worth moving the whole thing here and changing everybody’s life,” Mandella said. “Next year, when it’s four weeks, we’ll just move. We’re giving them a warning, basically.”
LARRY HIMMEL, 68, DIES OF CANCER
Longtime television and radio broadcaster Larry Himmel, 68, one of San Diego’s most popular personalities and a friend of Thoroughbred racing at Del Mar for decades, died of cancer at his home in San Diego Wednesday night.The uncommonly versatile Himmel had a deep affection for the sport of Thoroughbred racing and over the years was the reporter on numerous feature segments at Del Mar and other tracks in Southern California. On non-working days, he was a frequent attendee during Del Mar’s summer seasons and owned Thoroughbreds at various times in his life.
“Del Mar and all of racing has lost a dear friend,” said Joe Harper, Del Mar President and CEO. “Larry loved being at the races – the horses, the people and the excitement. He brought his sense of humor, enthusiasm and warm spirit each summer to Del Mar with his always interesting feature pieces. All of us at Del Mar will miss a great man and a great friend.”
Himmel is survived by his wife, Joan, and son, Miles.
AWESOME RETURN FAVORED IN SATURDAY’S LET IT RIDE STAKES
Awesome Return, a son of Decarchy owned by Richard Kritzski and trained by Mike Puype is the 7-2 favorite on oddsmaker Russ Hudak’s morning line for Saturday’s featured $75,000 Let It Ride Stakes for 3-year-old California-breds.
The field for the one mile turf event from the rail out is:
Forever Juanito (Tyler Baze, 5-1), Home School (Drayden Van Dyke, 6-1), Number Five (Tiago Pereira, 8-1), Papa Turf (Victor Espinoza, 15-1), I’ll Wrap It Up (Gary Stevens, 8-1), Awesome Return (Mike Smith, 7-2), Cabral (Corey Nakatani, 4-1), Maibaby (Keiren Fallon, 5-1) and Final Step (Elvis Trujillo, 10-1).
BING+BUBBLES+BRUNCH AVAILABLE IN TURF CLUB SUNDAYS
There’s a whole new way to do a spiffy Sunday morning brunch at Del Mar with a fun event called “Bing+Bubbles+Brunch” planned by a celebrity chef and served up in the track’s exclusive Turf Club.
Starting this Sunday and continuing throughout the month, fans will have access to a table in the Turf Club, a three-course brunch tasting menu created by local dining star Brian Malarkey and bottomless mimosas or champagne – a special happening that is a first for the seaside track. Malarkey will return each Sunday with a different and delicious selection of brunch treats.
Cost for the full package is $100 per person and tables will be available right after gates open at 10:30 a.m. Tickets can be obtained either on-line at delmarracing.com (click on “Tickets”), or by calling the Turf Club at (858) 792-4266. Turf Club dress rules will apply.
NINE TO GO IN SUNDAY’S BETTY GRABLE
A field of nine has been entered for Sunday’s featured $100,000 Betty Grable Stakes, a seven-furlong sprint for California-bred fillies and mares.
The field from the rail out:
Meinertzhageni (Fernando Perez), More Complexity (Mario Gutierrez), Qiaona (Mike Smith, Warren’s Veneda (Tyler Baze), Swiss Lake Yodeler (Elvis Trujillo), Sweet Marini (Martin Garcia), Sudden Sunday (Drayden Van Dyke), Mon Petite (Alonso Quinonez) and Tribal Gal (Victor Espinoza).
HERNANDEZ, ZIERALSKI WEEKEND HANDICAPPING SEMINAR GUESTS
John Hernandez and Ed Zieralski will be Del Mar’s handicapping guests this coming weekend as the track continues to offer its free handicapping seminars on Saturdays and Sundays.
The sessions will be held from 11 to 11:30 a.m. both days in front of the 12 noon first post that will be in place on weekends during the “Bing Crosby Season.” The seminars are held in the Seaside Terrace area near the head of the stretch.
Hernandez, a former San Diegan, currently hangs his hat in Iowa and serves as the TV voice and handicapper for Prairie Meadows racetrack. He also was a recent winner of a major quarter horse racing handicapping contest. Zieralski is an award-winning sports writer with specialties in the racing and outdoors beats for San Diego’s largest newspaper,UT San Diego. He covers Del Mar and the national racing scene, including the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup races.
THANKSGIVING DINNER AVAILABLE IN DEL MAR TURF CLUB
Del Mar has a special Thanksgiving Day offer for racing fans who might want to do their turkey and the trimmings at the races.
The track will be holding an eight-race card that day (November 27) with an early 11 a.m. first post. Those wishing to make the day unique can take advantage of an option to reserve a table in the exclusive Turf Club, which would include several dining options, among them a full turkey dinner with champagne or wine. Cost for the full Thanksgiving Day Turf Club experience is $100 per person.
Tickets to the holiday event will go on sale this Sunday. Del Mar’s ticket office (858 792-4242) or its Turf Club (858 792-4266) can be contacted.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BING
For the inaugural Bing Crosby Season at Del Mar, we offer a daily note, quote or anecdote about the track’s founding father for whom the fall meeting is named.
In February of 1937, five months before the opening of Del Mar, Bing hosted the inaugural National Pro-Am Golf Championship. It was held at nearby Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club. Sam Snead won and collected the first-place check of $500. In the late 1940s the event was moved to the Monterey Peninsula in Northern California and dubbed the “Crosby Clambake.” Bing served as host until his death in 1977 and family members continued thereafter into the 2000s.
Thursday, November 6, 2014 Contact: Dan Smith 858-792-4226/Hank Wesch 858-755-1141 ext. 3793