Turf Racing Return to Del Mar; Course Performs Well
Turf course racing was back on the agenda at Del Mar Saturday after six racing days on the sidelines and the track’s new grass course performed without incident.
Three races were conducted on the seven-furlong oval that had been installed new for the start of the 2014 season to replace the track’s original 53-year-old course. In each race horses returned in good order.
In the track’s second race of the day for older maidens, seven horses ran, with the winner covering a mile in 1:36.70. In the fifth race, the $150,000 La Jolla Handicap for 3-year-olds, six horses ran, with the winner – Enterprising – running a mile and one-sixteenth in 1:41.31. Then in the eighth race, nine allowance runners battled and the victor covered a mile in 1:35.42.
Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith, who was aboard Enterprising in the La Jolla, said of the new turf course:
“I think it really is a good course,” he said. “I thought so right from the start. It was firm, but it had a nice bounce to it. Now it might even be better. Horses go over it smooth, quiet. You don’t hear any of that clump, clump, clump on the backstretch. It’s all good. By the time we’re done here, this course might be as good as any in the country.”
During the period when the turf course was closed, track crews aerated it, used additional watering and adjusted its inner rail to the 24-foot marker, allowing for the horses to race on a “fresh” course.
Del Mar has two turf races scheduled on the course Sunday, an allowance/claiming race that goes as the day’s second event at a mile and has drawn eight horses, and the $250,000 John C. Mabee Stakes at nine furlongs that goes as the day’s eighth race. The Grade II Mabee will match seven runners.