Del Mar Thoroughbred Club has announced a unique incentive program for this summer to encourage owners--both from inside and outside California--to bring horses to the state for Del Mar’s 37-day meet beginning July 20.
The arrangement, dubbed the ”Ship and Win” program, is a two-pronged effort that will reward those who start runners at the seaside track who have made their previous start outside of California.
Any horse that qualifies under the program will receive an automatic check for $1,000 from DMTC for its first start at the meet. Additionally, that same horse will become eligible for a 20% bonus on top of its regular purse earnings in that particular race. For instance, in the case of Del Mar’s non-stakes, maximum overnight purse--which is $75,000--a winning horse earns 60% of that total, or $45,000. But, with the out-of-state bonus added on top, the winner additionally would be rewarded with an extra $9,000, meaning the horse potentially could pick up a total of $10,000 in bonus monies for his initial California outing.
“There is little doubt that we’re in competition with every racetrack in the country for racehorses,” said DMTC president and general manager Craig Fravel in a release. “There is also little doubt that running a horse at Del Mar is a special thing. We hope that the incentives we are now providing will enable and encourage more people to take part in that experience.”
The DMTC $1,000 bonus applies to any starter in any race at Del Mar, including its full list of 42 advertised and overnight stakes. The 20% purse bonus applies only to general overnight purses, meaning stakes purses are excluded.
“We have set the racing bar high at Del Mar,” said DMTC’s executive vice president for racing Tom Robbins in a statement. “In order to maintain that level and to deal with the reality of the current national horse inventory, we feel it is a good time to step up and offer rewards to those owners–both from within and from outside the state--who are willing to reinforce our stock of runners.”
The program carries a proviso that requires that eligible horses must not have raced in California for the same owner or ownership group in the past six months.
Field size has shown to be a key ingredient in fostering increased wagering. Wagering studies conducted nationwide point to it as often the single most important factor in whether or not racing programs and race meets flourish.
“If this program has the effect we’re hoping for, our local owners will benefit as well,” said Robbins. “More horses on board here mean bigger fields which equate to better wagering opportunities and can lead to higher purses. There will be cases where an additional horse or two will make the difference in a race going or not. Simply put, an influx of new horses will make for a healthier race meet for all.
“We are geographically isolated from racing in the rest of the country, and yet what goes on here is a strong barometer as to the health of the industry as a whole. Better racing in California is good for all involved in the game and enlarging our field sizes through a program such as this only makes sense. Unlike some other racing states, we do not have slot or racino money. We’ve got to put on our game all on our own.”
Robbins encouraged horsemen with questions about the program to contact him directly at Del Mar through the racing office at 800-874-8443.
Del Mar is planning on offering the richest overnight purse schedule in the history of California this summer with the total daily average payout to horsemen expected to rise above $550,000 per day.
Del Mar’s seven-week season runs until Sept. 7. With the exception of a card on Labor Day Monday (Sept. 5), racing will be conducted five days per week--from Wednesdays through Sundays.