Is Horse Racing Dead? Tremendous 2017 Del Mar Meet

Press Release

Del Mar closed out a stellar 78th summer season that featured competitive cards and full fields throughout its 36-day stand when Bolt d’Oro came roaring through the stretch to capture a thrilling edition of the Grade I Del Mar Futurity.

The track’s handle and attendance numbers were again the tops of any meet in California and – in a run that now stretches back more than a generation – among the top figures of any meeting in America.

Average daily handle moved ahead of last year by 5.1%. Attendance, which started slowly and was down double digits at one point, moved up steadily to the point where average daily attendance was just 1.5% below last summer. Field size rose yet again during the five-days-a-week stand. And safe racing prevailed throughout the summer, a key element in all the positives stated above.

“In many ways,” said Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s president Joe Harper, “you might call this one of the very best meets we’ve ever had here.”

Kudos were eligible to be passed around on many fronts, but none more so than to the track’s racing department and its maintenance crews. Executive vice president for racing Tom Robbins and racing secretary David Jerkens presented winning card after winning card throughout the summer. They also worked in concert with the track maintenance crew headed by veteran turf and landscape superintendent, Leif Dickinson, and the track’s new director of track maintenance, Dennis Moore, in ensuring one of the safest racing seasons in track history.

“If you remember the circumstances coming into this meet,” noted Robbins, “there was real concern about how we’d be able to perform. Filling a five-day race week with high-end product is a challenge on any circuit these days. But our horsemen rallied, our racing proved to be top quality and safe and we were able to put on a first-rate show for fans around the country.”

Metaboss at Del Mar
copyright Gary Tasich

Robbins added that the track’s field size numbers – the ones that most people tie directly to the rise or fall in handle – jumped up this summer from 8.3 per race in 2016 to 8.6, solidly above the national average. Additionally, the track’s “Ship & Win” program drew 110 new runners to the track over the 36 days, almost exactly comparable to the 120 it drew for 39 days last year. “S & W,” which has been in effect at Del Mar since 2011, has now drawn more than 900 horses from out of state. These new runners boost field size, add spice to the handicapping stew and often stick around permanently to become part of the Southern California racing scene.

The track’s wagering pools were robust once again, notably its weekend exotic bets where Saturday and Sunday Pick Four pools routinely topped $1-million. It’s Pick Six pools, enhanced this summer by the addition of the “Jackpot Carryover” element, also showed strong returns as Pick Six pools on non-carryover days increased 34% over 2016.

Total handle for the season projects at $451.5 million for a daily average of $12,542,000, up 5.1% above the 2016 average. Total attendance for the session was 476,628 for an average of 13,240, off 1.5% from the 2016 average.

“We gave up a weekend this year to allow for a safer and stronger start for our horses and horsemen,” stated Del Mar’s executive vice president and chief operating officer Josh Rubinstein. “It proved more than worth it. We sacrificed a few dollars, but we were able to put on one of our best race meets in recent memory. Working with all our partners in this business — the California Horse Racing Board, the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the California Thoroughbred Trainers and the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association – we were able to produce a sporting and entertainment package that sets the tone for everyone in our business.”

Del Mar now looks ahead to its first presentation of the Breeders’ Cup championship races at the seaside track on Friday and Saturday, November 3 and 4. Its fourth fall meet will get underway on Wednesday, November 1 and continue through to Sunday, November 26.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #41 – Millions of Ways to Lose

Sad but True Reality for Everyone in the Horse Racing Game

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

Thirty yards out of the gate, Saturday’s $300,000 Grade I Bing Crosby Stakes [July 29, 2017] went from high expectations to high anxiety.

When 2016 Eclipse Award sprinter Drefong suddenly shot to the left at the gap where the chute meets the main track, sending Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith flying, the race was changed and so were the thoughts of fans and the connections of the horses speeding down the backstretch.

“There’s a million reasons to get beat and that was one of them,” Bob Baffert, trainer of Drefong, said Sunday morning. “He (Drefong) could just as easily have hit the rail and broken his shoulder. But everybody came out of it fine, and that’s all you can hope for.”

Drefong put himself back into the race and completed it without a rider. The 4-year-old colt’s position among the front-runners caused concern among the other riders and it affected the outcome when Drefong forced eventual runner-up Roy H. six paths wide turning into the stretch and created an inside route that Ransom the Moon and Flavien Prat took to victory.

Drefong came out of the race unharmed. Smith was checked at the track first aid station after the race and released, saying he was fine with no reports to the contrary coming from Baffert or Smith’s agent Brad Pegram on Sunday.

“I would have liked to have seen (Drefong) relax and rate himself behind horses,” Baffert said. “But he’s pretty light on his feet and he recovered and bulled his way through on the rail. He’s a competitor and he was still trying to win.”

Phil D’Amato, trainer of Ransom the Moon, was there with Baffert, observing Sunday morning workouts. D’Amato had celebrated exuberantly, just outside the winner’s circle, with his crew and owners Mark Martinez of San Antonio, Texas and Jeffrey Wilke of Omaha, Nebraska, when Ransom the Moon crossed under the wire.

But in his post-race comments he was careful to praise Prat’s skill in assessing the situation on the fly, follow behind Drefong, and be in the right spot to move inside when others were being carried out. “Hat’s off to Peter Miller’s horse (Roy H) who ran a really good race.”

Ransom the Moon came out of the race “in good order,” D’Amato said. Miller, contacted by phone at the San Luis Rey Downs training center in Bonsall, said Roy H “got clipped” in a close encounter with Drefong but the injury didn’t appear to be serious.

“I felt like we were much the best, we just got unlucky,” Miller said. “With a smooth trip, he wins by two lengths. But that’s racing.”

Miller will wait to make a decision on the next start for Roy H. D’Amato indicated that Ransom the Moon would have a race in the fall at Santa Anita and then return here for the $1.5 million TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint on November 4.

The Bing Crosby was a “Win and You’re In” challenge series qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Baffert said the Grade I, seven-furlong Forego Handicap on August 26 at Saratoga was a possibility for Drefong. The Grade II $200,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes, also at seven furlongs, is here the same day. The Pat O’Brien is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the $1 million Las Vegas Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile here on November 3.

The major stakes races of the first two Saturdays of the meeting have been upsetting, in more than one sense of the word, for Baffert. In the TVG San Diego Handicap on July 22, world leader Arrogate finished fourth and Saturdaybrought the Crosby misfortune.

But exasperation doesn’t seem to be an option for the 64-year-old Hall of Famer.

“I don’t have any control of those things,” Baffert said. “As long as everybody is OK you just shake it off, laugh it off and go on to the next one.”

Source: Del Mar

Handicapping Tip of the Day #40 – Thoroughbred Race Horses are Not Machines

See Arrogate July 22, 2017 at Del Mar.

 

Super horse Arrogate Loses

The horse racing world was turned upside-down when Arrogate, rated the top horse in the world and the all-time leading money winner among North American thoroughbreds, suffered one of the biggest upsets in thoroughbred history Saturday at Del Mar, Calif. Arrogate, the 1-20 favorite in the $300,000 San Diego Handicap, finished fourth. After his subpar performance,… [Read more…]

Top Trainer Bob Baffert Talking Del Mar 2017 [Video]

Del mar chantal billboardThe 78th season of horse racing at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club starts Wednesday, July 19th. Bob Baffert, one of the sports all-time best trainers, has a horse named Arrogate that will race twice at Del Mar this season.

Here’s trainer Bob Baffert talking about the …

Source: Top Trainer Bob Baffert Talking Del Mar

‘Super Bowl’ of Horse Racing Worth $100 Million to San Diego Economy

Del Mar racingSan Diego Chargers may have left, but the “Super Bowl of horse racing ” – Breeders’ Cup 2017 –  is coming to Del Mar in November and will be worth $100 million to the San Diego economy.

A total of $4.5 million has been spent to upgrade the track and add 2,700 premium seating options, including a $1.5 million chalet village at the west end of the stretch run. “This is not your grandmother’s Del Mar,” said Fravel.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer estimated the two-day event will be worth $100 million to the local economy and be a significant public relations coup for both San Diego and Del Mar. “Millions of people will be watching the event on television across the globe,” he said.

Source: ‘Super Bowl’ of Horse Racing Worth $100 Million to San Diego Economy

2017 Breeders’ Cup Tickets For Sale Beginning March 6

Del Mar racingThe Breeders’ Cup announced that tickets for the 2017 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Del Mar will go on sale to the public on Monday, March 6. This is the first time that Del Mar will host the Breeders’ Cup.

Source: Breeders’ Cup Tickets For Sale Beginning March 6

Great Horse Racing Videos – Chrome in the 2016 Pacific Classic

“California Chrome in a canter!” ~ announcer Trevor Denman

Kentucky Derby champion California Chrome smashes to victory in the 2016 Pacific Classic, defeating a solid Grade 1 field that included the super mare Beholder and the talented runner Dortmund.

Later this year California Chrome will attempt to become the first 5-year-old Thoroughbred to add the Breeders’ Cup Classic to a resume that includes the Kentucky Derby.   Derby winners who won the Classic are: 3yos Unbridled, American Pharoah and Sunday Silence, and 4yos Ferdinand and Alysheba.  It’s a difficult task and rare for an older horse to accomplish, especially since few Derby winners get to compete at an advanced age.

2016 Pacific Classic, Saturday August 20, 2016 at Del Mar

 

 

AGOS Horses to Watch – July 18, 2016

The opening of “The Spa” should be a national holiday, or at least a day off for horseplayers.  They’ve been opening the doors since 1863, exactly one month after the Battle of Gettysburg. If you listen closely you may hear the sounds of past champions thundering down the stretch. But you’ll have to find out for yourself and add this track to your racing bucket list.  Want to learn how to “Beat Saratoga?”  Download this report today.

Del Mar

Langham (7/15/16 – DMR Race #10 – #9 – 1 mile turf) – Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith up for John Sadler and this first timer made an explosive run on the far turn into average fractional times. Keep an eye for this guy next out as I think he’s going to get better with every outing.

Belmont Park

Bobby on Fleck (7/9/16 – BEL Race #1 – #5 – 6f on the main –  Irad Ortiz was the pilot for Chad Brown and these guys do very good work as a team winning (27%). This first timer was pretty impressive and deserves a good play right back. He came into the race with a resume of bullet works and drew off strongly at the 3/16 th’s pole  to win by six lengths. He may be a nice play right back moving up the ladder.

Eloweasel (BEL 7/9/16 – Race #2 – #6 – 1 mile turf)  Manny Franco’s mount broke open the gate prior to the start and just stood there.  Either the asst. starter gets a raise, or she just wasn’t ready this day. Once the gates broke she was two wide early and ventured out in the six path rounding the far turn. We’ll give her a pass on this one and look for a blockbuster price next out. Think of this as a teaching moment that will pay boxcars !

Economic Model (BEL 7/9/16 – Race #7 – #6 – 1 mile dirt) –  Irad Ortiz and Chad Brown once again and this son of Flatter came in 4/5 ITM travelling over four different tracks. Ever since the dismal display in the (G-2) Tampa Derby, he has come back to reel off to straight wins. The barn looks to have her figured out and will be pointing to the Spa where he broke his maiden last year. Good things are coming from this guy.

Indygita (BEL 7/16/16 – Race #2 – #4 – 1 mile turf) –  Irad Ortiz in the irons and his filly stumbled leaving the starting gate and was forced out wide at the 1/16th pole. Look for this gal to improve and get a better trip next out.

She Doesn’t Mind (BEL 7/17/16 – Race #8 – #9 – 1 mile turf) –  Javier Castellano in the saddle for Chad Brown and this race appeared to have her making up good ground.  Go back and take a harder look and you’ll see she was forced wide into the stretch and while trying to find her best stride was held up and blocked down the lane. She should give the fits next time out.

Claimer of the Week from Del Mar

Del Mar racingOlympic Blue broke from an outside post, contested the lead after the opening quarter mile, took command at the top of the stretch and hung on to win the first race on opening day of the Del Mar meet. It was the ninth career victory for Olympic Blue, who has been named the agameofskill.com Claimer of the Week.

 

The 5 year old defeated fellow $12,500 claimers on the fast main track going a mile, and stopped the timer in 1:37.11. The gelding’s backers were well rewarded with a win ticket that returned $19.60. The son of Olympio, who has now won on dirt, grass, and artificial surfaces, was masterfully ridden by Rafael Bejarano. He was claimed from his last race at Golden Gate by trainer Andy Mathis. The California bred has finished in the money (top three finishers) 17 times from 30 career starts. Owned by the Bran Jam Stable, Olympic Blue has now accumulated nearly $218,000 in lifetime earnings.