Stall applications have been flowing in to Del Mar’s racing office in advance of the track’s second fall season, scheduled to begin on Thursday, October 29. The five week, 20-day meeting again will carry the title “Bing Crosby Season” by way of honoring its iconic founder as it races through to Sunday, November 29.
As was the case in 2014 when the shore oval conducted a four-week, 15-day session, the majority of the track’s runners for 2015 will ship in to race from Santa Anita, Los Alamitos or any of several training locations in Southern California. But racing secretary David Jerkens has registered a much stronger on-site response from horsemen – both local and otherwise – to the meet that has replaced most of the dates previously presented by the now-shuttered Hollywood Park.
“Our trainers are coming on strong for this meet,” Jerkens said. “I’m up markedly in stall requests, including more than a few who didn’t have a single stall here last year. Our guys with big barns – Jerry Hollendorfer, Doug O’Neill, Peter Miller, Phil D’Amato – are asking for quite a few more stalls and we’ve got upgrades or first-time requests from horsemen like Richard Mandella, Bob Hess, Art Sherman, Eddie Truman, Bill Spawr, Dan Hendricks, Gary Mandella and a dozen others.”
Additionally, Jerkens will house strings for the first time from a pair of notable eastern trainers in Graham Motion and Christophe Clement, and has had strong feedback concerning various stakes events from other easterners like Todd Pletcher, Bill Mott, Chad Brown and Kiaran McLaughlin. Further, there have been more stakes inquiries from European interests. Del Mar will offer 17 stakes over the course of its second season worth $2.7 million.
Jerkens, now finishing up his second full season running the track’s racing office after an extended run in the same role at Golden Gate Fields in the Bay Area, also has drawn positive interest from several of his old Northern California connections. Trainers Frank Lucarelli, W.E. Morey, Blaine Wright and Tim McCanna – among others – have requested barn space throughout the session, which will be conducted weekly on a Thursday-through-Sunday basis.
Jerkens noted that the additional week of racing for this go-round, as well as the fact that the first edition of the “Crosby Season” drew rave reviews from horsemen and racing fans alike, undoubtedly played into the enhanced interest by horsemen this year.
Stalls for about 650 horses are likely to be assigned for the meet, a 30% increase from the track’s initial fall outing. Horses first will be allowed on the grounds on Thursday, October 22 with actual training beginning the following morning. Training hours will be from 6 to 10 a.m. with one renovation break scheduled at 7:30.
Entries for opening day will be drawn this coming Sunday, followed by another draw next Tuesday for the first Friday (October 30) of the meet. Thereafter, entries will be taken in the usual pattern of a double draw (for Saturdays and Sundays) on Wednesdays, a Saturday draw for Thursdays and a Sunday draw for Fridays.
Del Mar will be the California host for the Breeders’ Cup races for the first time on its opening Friday and Saturday (October 30 and 31), broadcasting all races those days from Keeneland in Kentucky as well as conducting a full card of its own events. For its first week the track will present nine live races each day. For the remaining four weeks it will present eight races on Thursdays and Fridays, then nine on the weekends.
First post daily will normally be at 12:30 p.m. A notable exception will be Thanksgiving Day when an eight-race holiday card will begin at 11 a.m.