With a diminished number of horses remaining in his division in Southern California, trainer Mark Casse has decided not to run any more horses at the current Del Mar meet and return to the East Coast.
Last year, Casse won with 10 of 56 starters at the two Del Mar meets, including four graded stakes, with earnings of more than $1.1 million. But Del Mar replaced its synthetic main track with conventional dirt and Casse has one win and $55,390 in earnings from only six starters midway through the current summer meet.
Casse's summer base is at Woodbine in Canada, where the main track is a Polytrack synthetic surface. Casse, who also is racing horses at the Saratoga Race Course meet, is leading trainer at Woodbine with 42 wins and more than $2.6 million in purses.
The trainer said the decision to ship some of his eight remaining Del Mar horses East and move the others to other Southern California trainers was due to several reasons, not the least of which was the new surface.
Casse said he had 35 horses to start the 2014 Del Mar meet, primarily to get horses ready for the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita Park. But when those horses shipped back East or to Canada for other opportunities, Casse never replenished the stock, and that number had fallen drastically before this year's seaside meet.
"It just started winnowing down," he said.
The trainer has been successful with horses racing on all surfaces, but has more success with horses that run best on synthetics, because of his presence at Woodbine and also because he purchases a lot of horses at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company, where the sale stock is prepped and breezed over a synthetic track.
"Had Del Mar stayed synthetic, I would have taken more horses (there)," Casse said. "Now it's just another dirt track and we have plenty of those on the East Coast."
Despite not finishing out this year's Del Mar meet, Casse said he would return there in 2016, when the Breeders' Cup returns to Santa Anita.
"I will happily go back next year with some Breeders' Cup prospects," he said.