Just more than three weeks into Del Mar's summer meet, opinions still vary on the seaside track's new dirt surface, but most seem to agree the track is beginning to show what could be its lasting form.
The dirt, which is composed of the same "El Segundo sand" Santa Anita Park uses, was slow early in the meet, and track superintendent Richard Tedesco said it's still a bit slower than its Arcadia, Calif., counterpart.
"We're still a little bit slower than Santa Anita," Tedesco said. "It's coming together. I'm pretty happy with the racetrack and I go through the stable area every day to make myself visible and allow people to give me their comments. This year, people are just waving 'Hi,' so I guess we're doing OK."
The biggest hurdle for Tedesco was the heavy rain opening weekend, which continued to impact the dirt surface well after the flash thunderstorms subsided.
"The rail was a little dead. After the rain, it got dead because it was soupy," Tedesco said. "When it rains, material wants to go to the lower portion of the racetrack. It got heavier down there. Inside, it was the worst, and riders were staying away from the inside, but once I got it on an even playing field, it was fine."
Trainers and jockeys have noticed the track has tightened, but most point to the natural settling of the surface that comes with time.
"It just settled itself. I don't think they've done anything to tighten it," jockey Aaron Gryder said. "The rain the first week helped it and over a couple weeks, it has settled. Now we're seeing what the true track is. It's a little bit slower, but that doesn't bother me. You can win from anywhere if you're on the right horse."
"I've been happy with it all along," Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella said. "It has been a little slow, but there's nothing wrong with slow. They're all running on the same track.
"I've been pretty happy with the way the horses are coming back, so I don't have any complaints. It's coming together, which is natural for dirt. Dirt doesn't snap around overnight. When you put three feet of dirt in, it's going to be a little while until it's a perfect surface."
Tedesco's efforts are a work in progress, with the target always being a consistent surface.
"It's about consistency, for the horses and the public," Tedesco said. "Now they're winning from everywhere and everyone is happy."