Del Mar Opening Day

And they’re off! Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s 82nd horse racing season begins [today] Friday, July 16 (Opening Day), and runs through Monday, Sept. 6 (Closing Day).

Each week, Del Mar will feature races Friday through Sunday for the first two weeks and Thursday through Sunday for the remainder of the season. Gates: 12:30 p.m. First Post: 2 p.m. (Starting July 23, every Friday gates open at 2:30 p.m. and First Post is at 4 p.m.).

No concerts after the races this year and no walk-up admission. Tickets and seats must be purchased online.

Watch for several new jockeys (men and women) joining the lineup this year. Trevor McCarthy and “Jersey” Joe Bravo are hanging their tack here, in addition to a pair of up-and-coming female riders, Jessica Pyfer and Ellie Ellington.

Del Mar will also have new strings of horses and stables from outside the Golden State, such as trainers Michael Maker and Mark Casse bringing strings of about 25 horses.

Additionally, California-based trainers will be recruiting and scouting horses from other tracks to bring to Del Mar in order to qualify for the lucrative “Ship & Win,” a program that offers starter bonuses for out-of-state winning horses.

Here’s some historical highlights from the track:

Record $2 Win: Cipria $263.40 (September 1955)

Record $2 Daily Double: $5,299.30 (July 1971)

Record of $2 Pick 6 $2 million 100,000 (August 2004)

Highest Single Day Track Attendance: 47,339 (July 2012)

Longtime track announcer Trevor Denman returns to the microphone after a yearlong absence due to COVID-19 concerns. The veteran race caller will be another bright spot to Del Mar racing along with the addition of fans…

Will Fans Be Allowed at Del Mar this Year?

Drew Brees at Del Mar

Drew Brees at Del Mar

Covid-19 and Horse Racing Attendance

With improving trends in public health data, growth in vaccination rates and the gradual relaxation of limits on attendance at sporting and performance venues in the state, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club officials are looking forward to a return of fans to the seaside track when it opens for its 82nd summer season on Friday, July 16, track officials said today.

Track personnel are planning for spectators on site when the racetrack kicks off a 31-day season that will feature 34 major stakes, a substantial increase in purses and a return to the sun and fun vibe that has been part of its culture since it first opened its gates in 1937.

“We will continue to follow the guidance of local health officials and our medical advisors, but based on what has been announced for other local attractions such as the San Diego Padres and SeaWorld, we are optimistic we will have fans in the stands this summer at some level,” said Del Mar president and COO Josh Rubinstein.  “We have the advantages of a 350-acre site and a facility that can host people quite comfortably with appropriate social distancing as needed.”

With its traditional opening day feature – the Runhappy Oceanside Stakes – topping the bill, the Friday, July 16 kickoff will initiate a Friday-Saturday-Sunday beginning to the first two weeks of the season.  The remainder of the meet will feature Thursday-through- Sunday racing weeks with a finale on Labor Day Monday, September 6.  First post daily throughout the stand will be at 2 p.m. with the exception of Fridays in which first post will be at 4 p.m.


Big Purse Increase for Del Mar Summer Meet

Del Mar racingThe Del Mar Thoroughbred Club will implement a major purse increase for its upcoming summer race meeting opening on Saturday, July 17, including substantial increases in all overnight purses and record incentives for owners and trainers that ship out-of-state horses to race at Del Mar through its popular “Ship and Win” program, track officials announced today.

Average daily overnight purses for the 2021 season will be increased by over 30% as compared to 2019 levels during which the track operated an uninterrupted racing schedule. With the increases announced today, Del Mar expects to average more than $700,000 a day in purses this summer.

The “Ship and Win” program for horses entering from outside California is doubling both its participation fee for owners (from $2,000 to $4,000) and its purse bonus from 20% to 40% for all eligible races. The purse bonus will be upped to 50% for dirt races in the “Ship and Win” program.

“We’ve got some real momentum in California as we prepare for the 2021 season and, based on the inquiries we’re receiving, owners and trainers are taking notice,” said Del Mar’s executive vice president for racing, Tom Robbins. “Our partnership with the Thoroughbred Owners of California, TVG and The Stronach Group has us on track for one of the most lucrative seasons in Del Mar history, which will be a boost for California racing and help set the stage for us to host the Breeders’ Cup here again in November.”

The 2021 purse enhancements are due in part to a partnership with the Thoroughbred Owners of California, FanDuel Group’s TVG horse racing television network and advanced-deposit wagering platform and The Stronach Group’s 1/ST Racing. The multi-party agreement, announced earlier this year, is expected to inject up to $15 million into California Thoroughbred purses and programs over the next two years.

In addition, Del Mar’s total handle for its 2020 racing seasons was well above initial projections – despite fans not being allowed onsite – adding funding to the purse increases for the upcoming live racing season.

Among the increases for overnights, maiden special weight races will jump from $55,000 during the 2020 summer meet to $70,000 this summer, maiden-claiming $20,000 races rise from $19,000 last year to $25,000 and open $40,000 claiming races purses will increase from $37,000 to $47,000.

As an example of how these increases affect the “Ship and Win” program, a maiden special weight race on the main track this summer will carry a purse of $105,000 ($70,000 plus a 50% bonus) plus a $4,000 starter bonus for out of state horses that qualify for the program.

“Anticipation for Del Mar’s race meetings is always high among horsemen but it will be even more so this year with the increased purse structure announced today,” said Gary Fenton, chairman of the TOC. “We look forward to continuing our work with the state’s key racing stakeholders to further strengthen California’s year-round racing program.”

Track officials also noted that Del Mar’s 2021 stakes schedule will be released in the coming weeks and that purses levels will be raised for several of its summer stakes races.

Del Mar will offer a 31-day summer racing season this year after racing 27 days in 2020. It will open with Saturday and Sunday cards (July 17, 18), then switch to a Thursday through Sunday schedule for the balance of the meet. The summer season will close, as usual, on Labor Day, Monday, September 6.