Purses, Handle Soar at Del Mar's 75th Meet
Del Mar completed its 75th season with sizable increases in purses and on-track and all-source wagering, but attendance took a slight dip during the 37-day meet at the Southern California track that ended Sept. 5.
The San Diego County track reported average daily purses of $687,755 per day, an increase of 23.6% over the $626,823 figure for 2011, with average field sizes increasing to 8.7 runners per race from 8.4 a year ago.
Average daily on-track handle for the seven-week meet increased from $2,087,141 in 2011 to $2,364,187 in 2012 and daily Advanced Deposit Wagering numbers climbed from $1,349,170 last year to $1,810,215 in 2012.
Overall, Del Mar's all-sources handle jumped 8.8%, to $12,651,175 (on a total of $468,093,477), compared with $11,629,151 (on a total of $430,278,585) in 2011
Average daily attendance of 17,623 represented a slight decline from the 17,844 average a year ago.
"The 75th was one of the most successful seasons ever for us," said Del Mar Thoroughbred Club president and CEO Joe Harper. "(There was) terrific racing and lots of good betting opportunities because of it. And we also did the Del Mar thing really well, which means that the show was good and we had fun - both putting it on and watching it unfold. Lots of fun."
"Our horsemen were terrific this summer," said executive vice president for racing and industry relations Tom Robbins, who also serves as the track's racing secretary. "The entry box was humming right from day one and we finished stronger than I can ever recall. Running 11-race cards across Labor Day weekend has never happened before. On top of that, our racing fans have to be considered among the best in the business. They come to bet, they come to have fun, and they just keep coming. It is a wonderful atmosphere to go racing."
Horses eligible for the "Ship and Win" program, in which out-of-state runners received added bonuses for any purses won, went up from 107 in 2011 to 137 in 2012, a 28% increase. In addition, the track employed the aid of the Barretts sales company to conduct a first-ever, race-ready racehorse sale on its first weekend and sold 25 out-of-state runners in its paddock that brought an additional boost to the track inventory.
There were 261 claims made for $6,167,000 during the meet, compared with 254 for $6,210,500 in 2011.
Jockey Rafael Bejarano took his second Del Mar riding title with 52 wins, nine more than Joe Talamo. With three winners on closing day, Peter Miller captured his first Del Mar trainer championship, edging out Bob Baffert, 21-20. Doug O'Neill, suspended since Aug.19, was third with 18 victories.
Donegal Racing's Dullahan, winner of the TVG Pacific Classic (gr. I) Aug. 26, was voted "horse of the meeting" by the media.
Glen Hill Farm, which took the leading owner title in 2011, this year tied with Leonard Lavin, as both stables posted five wins during the met.
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