Rich Stakes Action Planned at Del Mar

The richest stakes schedule in Del Mar's history - 27 major races worth $6,325,000 - will serve as the centerpiece for the seaside track's 65th summer racing season starting July 21. The traditional 43-day meeting will run through Sept. 8.

Highlighting the meeting is the $1-million Pacific Classic (gr. I). The 1 1/4-mile race for 3-year-olds and up will be contested Aug. 22.

The 2004 stakes schedule parallels last year's list, but with several notable upgrades. Three of the track's headliners will carry larger purses, while two have been enhanced for grading purposes. The largest purse boost has been attached to the Del Mar Derby (gr. II), which is now worth $400,000 and will be contested on Aug. 14.

Two other stakes will see $50,000 jumps in their totals - the Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. I) and the Pat O'Brien Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) - Del Mar's top offerings for older sprint stars.

The Crosby, which will be run at six furlongs on July 25, is not worth $250,000. The Pat O'Brien will be run over seven furlongs on Aug. 15, once again will be designated a Breeders' Cup race and carries a purse of $200,000.

The other stakes race with a rise in graded status is the $150,000 La Jolla Handicap, which has gone from grade III to grade II.

Other notable stakes on the schedule include the $400,000, John C. Mabee Handicap (gr. IT) for older fillies and mares on July 24; the $400,000, Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) for older horses on July 25, and the $300,000, Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) for 3-year-old fillies on Aug. 21. Each of those races is run at nine furlongs on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.

Also up for renewal are the track's two premier events for juveniles - the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) and the Del Mar Futurity (gr. II). Both are contested at seven furlongs for $250,000 purses. The Debutante, for fillies, goes Aug. 28, while the Futurity fills its usual closing-day spot on Sept. 8.

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