News and Notes July 14 – by Rod Young Turfdom

Del Mar kicks off their 76th season with full fields and a ton of excitement. The opening day card
with 10 races, averaged 12.2 horses per race and Friday’s card is just as full. For the first time in 9
years they have a pure dirt surface for the main track and it is the same dirt, the El Segundo Sand” as
they have at Santa Anita. The turf course has had another full year to mature and last year’s issues
should be behind them. First post will be 2PM on all days but Fridays, where they will stick with the
8 race card and a first post of 4PM. Papacoolpapacool and Soul Driver head up the field for the
Oceanside stakes on Thursday with 10 other three year olds in a very contentious race. Rafael
Bejarano is back to defend his riding title against a room full of talented riders along with a
newcomer, James Graham from the Midwest. They anticipate another overflow crowd on Opening
Day with around 44,000 going through the turnstiles.
• Why is Del Mar so popular? First and foremost, they have the best dates. July and August are prime
“vacation” months for thousands of horseplayers. Secondly, they have the location. Sitting right on
the Pacific Ocean, just 25 miles north of San Diego, they get the cool breezes off the ocean each and
every day. Third, they know how to market their product. “Cool As Ever” is their slogan and they
have re-branded their audience as a “social scene”, not a race track. It’s become a place to go and
hang out with friends, and while you’re at it, bet on a few ponies. Get this, 70% of their attendance is
between 18 and 49 years of age, and 45% of their attendance are women. What other race track in
the world can boast those statistics. They have found success with their Summer concert series as
well as craft beer festivals. They are one of the great success stories of North American
thoroughbred racing.
• It’s been reported this past week that California Chrome has a bruised cannon bone and will
probably not race the rest of the year. He is in Chicago, as he was preparing for the Arlington
Million on August 15, after not being able to race in Europe due to a bruised foot which occurred in
training there. This horse has been as poorly managed by his principle owner, Perry Martin, as
anyone could deem possible. Art Sherman, his California trainer, has never been consulted to where
or when he races, and is primarily responsible for making him the champion that he is. Sherman, a
class act all the way, certainly deserves better.
• Triple Crown winner American Pharoah next race will be at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, the
Grade 1 Haskell stakes for 3 year olds on Sunday, August 2nd. The track is going all out for his
arrival and is planning a three day Pharoah Phan Phestival. Trainer Bob Baffert has won this race 7
times and he will probably win it again this year, as “Pharoah” is up to 5/8 in his drills and shows no
wear and tear from the Triple Crown. They are predicting a crowd of 60,000 on August 2. If all goes
well, he will probably race at Saratoga in the Travers at the end of August and stay with three year
• Trainers to watch at Del Mar on what they do best: 1. Mike Puype is deadly in maiden races for Cal
breds. In the last 5 years he is 12 for 50 with a positive ROI of $3.07 at Del Mar. 2. Peter Miller is
11 for 26 when he debuts maidens in a claiming race with an ROI of $4.17, see Friday’s opening
race. 3. Bob Baffert with first time starters in maiden special weights at 3/1 or lower. He is 15 for 32
with a positive ROI of $2.20. Follow the money with Baffert and it may make for some nice
“singles” in the exotic wagering format.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.