Del Mar Thoroughbred Club will serve up its richest and most prestigious stakes schedule ever during a 43-day stand between July 18 and Sept. 5. Just as it did last summer, the seaside gem will feature 30 major stakes events but they will be worth a record total of $7.25 million.
In addition, this will be the first season that Del Mar races on Polytrack, which is being installed as a safety measure to replace the old main track.
The lucrative schedule is highlighted by a stakes tripleheader Aug. 19 as part of the new Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” program, a trio of purse enhancements, a slight date shifting of several races and the bolstering of the track’s traditional closing-day headliner – the Del Mar Futurity – from grade II to grade I.
Topping the roster — just as it has every year since its advent in 1991 – is the track’s showcase offering, the $1 million Pacific Classic. The 1 1/4-mile test for 3-year-olds and up will be the spotlight attraction on a blockbuster card Aug. 19 that also will include the $400,000 Del Mar Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr IIT) and the $300,000 Pat O’Brien Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II). ESPN will televise the three stakes nationally in a one-hour program.
Noteworthy changes among the advertised stakes include the additions of $50,000 in purse monies to the Palomar B.C. Handicap for fillies and mares making the prize for the Sept. 1 race $250,000, as well as an additional $25,000 in funds to both the El Cajon Stakes (Aug. 31) and the Torrey Pines Stakes (Sept. 2), increasing each of the 3-year-old features to $125,000.
Other changes consist of shifting the $400,000 John C. Mabee Handicap (gr. IT) for fillies and mares from the track’s opening weekend to its third (Aug. 4); the $125,000 Solana Beach Handicap for California-bred fillies and mares moving forward one weekend to anchor the Aug. 25 program, and the $150,000 Sorrento Stakes (gr. III) scheduled four days earlier as the highlight of the Aug. 8 card. Also, the Del Mar Mile – in order to be part of the Pacific Classic Day power card as noted above – was moved one week earlier.
Besides its 30 major stakes, Del Mar once more will offer a dozen overnight stakes — each with a value of $85,000 – for an additional $1,020,000 in stakes monies.
“We’ve got another blockbuster summer on tap,” said Joe Harper, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s president and general manager. “Big races, good horses and lots of action for our fans. And I think with our addition of Polytrack we’ve ensured safe and highly competitive racing for all concerned.”
Del Mar is currently in the process of installing the engineered racing surface Polytrack on its main track at a cost of $8 million in time for its summer meet. The new substance – consisting primarily of sand, rubber, fibers and wax — is expected to provide a kinder and more consistent track for horse and rider, thus promoting safer and more competitive racing.
Del Mar’s vice president/racing and racing secretary, Tom Robbins, who’ll be manning the helm in the racing department for the 27th straight season, felt that the stakes schedule he crafted for 2007 “again is well balanced.”
“Just like last summer, we’ve got something for just about everyone,” Robbins said. “Our big day (Aug. 19) with the Pacific Classic, the two other major races and enhanced purses throughout the card should be spectacular.”
All told, 19 of the track’s 30 major stakes have graded status – seven as grade I’s, 10 as grade II’s and two as grade III’s.
Del Mar’s seven Grade I’s are the Pacific Classic; the John C. Mabee; the $250,000 Del Mar Futurity (seven furlongs); the $250,000 Del Mar Debutante (seven furlongs) for juvenile fillies on Monday, September 3; the $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap (nine furlongs, turf) for 3-year-olds and up on Sunday, July 22; the $300,000 Bing Crosby Handicap (six furlongs) for 3-year-olds and up on Sunday, July 29, and the $400,000 Del Mar Oaks (nine furlongs, turf) for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday, August 18.