Shorter but Stronger 15-Day Meet Expected at Del Mar
The “Bing Crosby Season” begins a 15-day session today and runs through Dec. 4 at Del Mar. The 15-day meet will include 14 stakes races (10 graded) with purses totaling $2.05 million. The final weekend of the meet features two Grade I stakes races — the Dec. 3 Hollywood Derby, which was won by California Chrome in 2014, and the Matriarch the following day.
The shore oval where ‘The Turf Meets the Surf’ provides fans more great racing and weather in Southern California.
“This is a horseman’s meeting,” DMTC President and CEO Joe Harper said earlier this week. “It is totally different from the summer meet. During the Bing Crosby, we’ll see more locals. We’ll have great horses and beautiful weather without the hassles.”
Del Mar executive vice president for racing and industry relations Tom Robbins has a solid staff of nearly 100 covering the fall meet, including racing secretary David Jerkens. Last year, Del Mar opened the Bing Crosby meet on the same weekend as the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland. Next year, Del Mar will host the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Championships.
“Last year was a completely different scenario, with the Breeders’ Cup having more of an effect on us than we thought it would,” Jerkens said Tuesday. “The schedule this year is identical to 2014 and the response from the horsemen in terms of stall requests has been positive.”
Doug O’Neill, Phil D’Amato, Peter Miller and Richard Baltas, the 1-2-3 and co-fourth place finishers in the 2015 Crosby trainer standings, will be stabling 25-30 horses each for the meeting. There were 220 horses in Del Mar’s stable area by Wednesday morning and Jerkens projects an equine occupancy of 400-plus on race days.
“That’s a healthy number,” Jerkens said. “The meeting is now part of the fabric of the Southern California circuit. Horsemen have gotten accustomed to the schedule and can make plans knowing what it’s like and what to expect.”
Nov. 11 Veteran’s Day will begin with a tribute to all who have served, or are currently serving, in the military.
Jockey Rafael Bejarano, 34, is the defending riding champion of the 15-day Bing Crosby Season. He’ll be aboard the favorite Sobradora Inc (ARG) in the $75,000 Kathryn Crosby Stakes for older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the infield turf course opening day.
Saturday’s program will feature the $75,000 Let It Ride Stakes for 3-year-olds at one mile on the turf course. The early favorite in the field of six is Curlin Rules, the son of Curlin, the 2007-08 Horse of the Year.
The Bing Crosby Season will also feature an enhanced Pick 6 that is expected to offer larger payoffs. The revised Pick 6, which was recently approved by the California Horse Racing Board, will offer a Single Ticket Jackpot, which allows a solo winner to receive a larger award based on a larger percentage from the carryover pool.
The Bing Crosby Season opens with three racing dates this week, then will run Thursdays to Sundays through the season finale Dec. 4. There will be eight races daily on weekdays and nine on weekends. First post at Del Mar is 12:30 p.m. daily, except for a special 11 a.m. start on Thanksgiving.