New Opening Date and Schedule for Del Mar Meet

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club announced today its intention to begin the 2020 summer race meet on July 10 and employ a three-day-a-week race schedule pending the approval of the California Horse Racing Board at its June 11 meeting.

Further, following guidelines issued by San Diego County public health officials, California state officials and in consultation with other public health experts, the track’s traditional summer meeting is preparing to operate without spectators, but will continue to work with state and local officials to adopt any changes as they happen. In all cases, Del Mar will follow similar COVID-19 protocols that have enabled racing to be conducted safely in California and throughout the country.

“We’re coming back and we’re going to put on the most unique show in Del Mar history,” said Del Mar’s CEO, Joe Harper. “It’s going to look different, it’s going to feel different, but it’s going to be first-class horse racing at Del Mar and in these unusual times that’s something to look forward to.”

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Originally scheduled to open its 81st summer season on Saturday, July 18, Del Mar is planning a schedule change to start Friday, July 10 with racing on a Friday-Saturday-Sunday basis throughout the summer, closing with a four-day week on Labor Day Monday, September 7. The track will offer 10-race cards on Fridays and Sundays and 11-race cards on Saturdays. Opening Day will be an exception to the schedule with an 11-race program and Labor Day will offer 10 races.

The new schedule calls for 291 races over nine weeks. The track carded 297 races over its eight-week 2019 summer meeting.

“We want to begin the meet earlier and offer horsemen the same number of opportunities to run as we have for the last several summer seasons,” said Tom Robbins, DMTC’s executive vice president of racing. “We’ve had inquiries from new trainers from across the country who are interested in sending horses to Del Mar, which is encouraging. And because the San Diego Fair was cancelled this year, our track maintenance team will be preparing our racing surfaces earlier and we’ll be able to have horses on-site sooner than in the past. It will be a little different, but we’re confident we can present the same high caliber racing that fans, owners and trainers have come to expect.”

Racing at Santa Anita is scheduled to conclude June 21. Los Alamitos will offer Thoroughbred racing from June 26 through July 5. Both tracks have been operating live racing without fans and with only essential personnel under strict protocols in response to COVID-19.

“Over the past several weeks Del Mar has joined with other racing industry leaders to develop extensive operating procedures to permit horse racing in a way that ensures the safety of all employees, stakeholders and our horses,” said Josh Rubinstein, DMTC’s president and COO. “A number of medical experts throughout the country have provided guidance and helped us develop a comprehensive plan. DMTC’s planning has benefitted from additional direction and aid from local experts such as Scripps Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ghazala Sharieff, and her colleagues.”

Rubinstein praised local health and elected officials.

“San Diego County’s Health & Human Services Agency and its elected officials, working in concert with state officials, have done an incredible job ensuring San Diego stays safe during this difficult time,” he said. “We are grateful for their leadership, guidance and positive feedback as we implement our safety guidelines that follow the stringent protocols that have been successful at California’s other Thoroughbred racing facilities.”

Even without spectators, Del Mar’s racing season is important to the continued economic viability of California’s horse racing industry. The regular care and training of racehorses in the state supports thousands of jobs, housing and health care services for workers, as well as hundreds of local small businesses and family farms.

Wagering on Del Mar’s races will continue remotely via on-line platforms like TVG and at off-track betting locations around the world. In 2019, 90% of wagering on Del Mar’s races took place off-track and during the recent “Safer At Home” guidelines in many states Internet wagering has surged.

Del Mar will present its traditional stakes schedule with some minor modifications. The full stakes schedule will be released May 29.

The track’s broadcast partner – TVG – will provide enhanced Del Mar coverage throughout the summer. NBC Sports is currently broadcasting TVG on its popular NBCSN channel. Discussions are on-going for including Del Mar in these future national broadcasts.

First post daily throughout the summer will be at 2 p.m.

Source: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

Is Horse Racing Dead? Successful 2017 Del Mar Fall Meeting

Press Release

The highly successful first Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar – which has drawn rave reviews from coast to coast – got the track’s fall meeting off to a rousing start and that momentum carried through the four-week season, which concluded Sunday. The track’s fall meet numbers were the strongest since it began autumn racing in 2014.

All sources average daily wagering – which does not include the two-day Breeders’ Cup November 3 and 4 – was up a robust 7.5% as compared to 2016. Out-of-state handle increased 10.3% and on-track betting rose by 4%. Noteworthy, too, was the fact that the 14-day meet final wagering figure of $153.1 million exceeded the 15-day total of $152.5 million from 2016.

“We are, of course, very pleased with the results from our fall season,” said Del Mar Thoroughbred Club president and general manager Joe Harper. “The Breeders’ Cup got us off to a good beginning, but our fall meet has grown into a winner all its own and now has become a staple in California. With the support of our horsemen and our bettors, Del Mar’s fall run has become the most prosperous November meet in the country.”

Metaboss at Del Mar
copyright Gary Tasich

The two-day Breeders’ Cup extravaganza registered record betting numbers when $25,181,317 went through the tote on-track – best ever in the 34-year history of the championship event. It was an increase of more than 21% over the 2016 figures. The common pool handle over the two days was $166,077,486, the highest total since the 2010 Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs when there were two additional BC races held.

Del Mar’s $3.3-million fall stakes schedule – with its emphasis on turf racing – again proved highly popular to horsemen both locally and nationally. Twelve of the track’s 22 stakes were of the graded variety consisting of two Grade Is, four Grade IIs and six Grade IIIs. A pair of special horses had a national spotlight shine on them when they turned in sharp performances in the Grade I races – Mo Town shipping in from New York and mowing them down impressively on the lawn in the Hollywood Derby and the crack mare Off Limits also shipping in to clicking smartly in the Matriarch.

Del Mar’s racing office was delighted with the response from its horsemen and the numbers registered at the entry box. In the end, the track’s field size for the 14 days was 8.5 runners per race, equaling last fall’s average, which was the highest in the state and among the highest in the country. Additionally, the track’s thriving “Ship and Win” program took another jump forward during the fall run. Last year in 15 days Del Mar lured 31 “S & W” horses to race at the meet. This year that number skyrocketed up 87% to 58 out-of-towners during the 14 racing days.

“No doubt the Breeders’ Cup helped expose Del Mar and our fall racing season to new parties,” noted the track’s executive vice president for racing Tom Robbins. “And no doubt that exposure can – and likely will – have positive benefits going forward. But the ultimate success of fall racing at Del Mar is in the hands of our local horsemen and they have responded in a most emphatic fashion to what we’ve had to offer.”

Robbins also noted the exceptional work done by the track’s two superintendents – Leif Dickinson with its turf course and Dennis Moore with its main track.

“We did more turf racing than ever this year and Leif and his crew were simply outstanding with the course,” Robbins stated. “And Dennis coming on board for the first time this year and remaking our dirt track was a huge advantage to all concerned. We’ve had some of the safest racing in Del Mar history this past year and those two gentlemen were the foremost reason why.”

Del Mar’s fall attendance numbers did dip slightly from the 2016 digits, checking in at 77,218 for a daily average of 5,516, a decline of 5.3%.

The seaside track will resume racing in 2018 with its popular summer meet from July 18 to September 3.