Del Mar Summer Meet May Look Different, But Racing Quality Stays Exceptional
More Weeks, Fewer Days Takes Nothing From Quality Racing
The 81st season of summer racing at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, California, gets underway on Friday with an opening day card made up of 10 races, including the featured $100,000 Runhappy Oceanside Stakes, the traditional first race of the track’s sophomore turf series.
Del Mar had initially planned to open on July 18, but thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, the meet was moved up a week to Friday, July 10, and the track will operate on a three-day, Friday-through-Sunday schedule, which is down from the five-day and six-day weeks in previous seasons. The track will offer 10-race cards on Fridays and Sundays and 11-race cards on Saturdays. Opening Day offers a 10-race program, Labor Day, which is also closing day, will offer 10 races.
The backstretch, which opened for stabling and training on June 26, is full of horses from all over California and even several other states.
This year, Sing With Bing will take place in the privacy of our own homes as racing will be conducted spectator-free, as well as owner-free for the foreseeable future. Participation is limited to trainers, jockeys, grooms, hotwalkers, exercise riders and other essential employees both on the frontside and backside, all who are required to undergo daily health screenings and temperature checks. Everyone is also required to wear masks and practice safe social distancing whenever possible.
The meet this year will card 291 races over nine weeks, down just six from the 297 races contested over its eight-week summer meeting a year ago.
The stakes schedule offers a total of 38 races worth more than $5.5 million, of which 32 carry at least a purse of $100,000, plus six overnight stakes each worth $65,000. A total of 21 races are graded – six are grade 1, another 11 are grade 2 and four more are grade 3. Of the 38 stakes, 18 will be constested over the Jimmy Durante turf.
The $100,000 Shared Belief Stakes on August 1 will or the first time give the San Diego oval a direct influence on the Kentucky Derby thanks to the race being postponed to September 5, two days before Del Mar closes. The race has been lengthened to 1 1/16 miles and now will offer Road to the Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers on a 50-20-10-5 basis.
The TVG Pacific Classic (GI) will be run for the 30th time on Saturday, August 22, and offers a reduced purse of $500,000. The $250,000 Del Mar Oaks (GIT) for 3-year-old fillies; $200,000 Del Mar Handicap (GIIT) for 3-year-olds and up; the $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes (GIII) for 3-year-old fillies; and the $100,000 Green Flash Handicap (GIIIT) for 3-year-olds will be contested the same day.
The other grade 1 events offered over the next nine weeks are the $250,000 Bing Crosby Stakes on August 1, the $250,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes on August 2, the $250,000 Del Mar Debutante on September 6 and the $250,000 Runhappy Del Mar Futurity on September 7.
Once again, five of the track’s graded stakes are Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” qualifying races, which means the winner in each will guarantee an all-expenses paid entry, as well as travelling expenses where applicable, into the body of the corresponding Breeders’ Cup race. The TVG Pacific Classic is a “Win and You’re In” race for the $7 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) and the other four “Win and You’re In” races are the Bing Crosby ($2 million Sprint); the Clement L. Hirsch ($2 million Distaff); the Del Mar Handicap ($6 million Turf) and $150,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes on August 29 ($2 million Dirt Mile.)
The two-day Breeders’ Cup will be held at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, on November 6 and 7 this year and will return to Del Mar in 2021.
California-bred stakes, including several that are part of the state’s Golden State Stakes Series, are also part of the exciting stakes action this summer – $100,000 Fleet Treat, $125,000 California Dreamin’, the $100,000 Real Good Deal, the $100,000 CTBA, the $100,000 Graduation, the $125,000 Solana Beach, the $100,000 Generous Portion and the $100,000 I’m Smokin.
To view the entire stakes schedule, click here.
Wagering on Del Mar’s races will continue remotely via online platforms like TVG annd Xpressbet, and at off-track betting locations around the world. The good news is that in 2019, 90 percent 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 and several tracks that were able to continue to operate during the Covid-19 shutdowns generated record handle numbers.
For a complete wagering menu, click here.
Additionally, the track’s broadcast partner and Pacific Classic sponsor TVG will provide enhanced Del Mar coverage throughout the summer, and fans who have been watching TVG via NBC Sports can also watch Del Mar via its popular NBCSN channel.
First post daily is 2:00 p.m. PT.