Del Mar to Keep $1M Purse for Pacific Classic

Track announces sponsorship deal with TVG, some stakes cuts for 2010 summer meet.

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and TVG have announced a partnership arrangement for 2010 that will extend the racing network's exclusive rights to broadcast races from the seaside track this summer while enabling that the meet's showcase event, the $1 million Pacific Classic (gr. I), to retain its lucrative purse for its 20th running on Aug. 28.

The track will return its entire stakes roster, offering 31 major races and 11 overnight events during the meet. However, 13 of the track's major stakes took cuts in their 2009 values this season.

Of the 13 stakes that were trimmed on this year's schedule, one was cut back $25,000 (gr. III Cougar II Handicap now at $125,000) and another by $100,000 (gr. IIT John C. Mabee Stakes now at $250,000).

The other 11 all were reduced by $50,000. They are (with 2010 values): $300,000 Eddie Read Stakes (gr. IT), $200,000 San Diego Handicap (gr. II), $250,000 Bing Crosby Stakes (gr. I), $300,000 Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT), $150,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap (gr. III), $250,000 Del Mar Mile (gr. IIT), $200,000 Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT), $250,000 Darley Debutante (gr. I), $300,000 Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT), $150,000 Palomar Handicap (gr. IIT) and the $250,000 Del Mar Futurity (gr. I).

All of Del Mar's overnight stakes have been reduced by $10,000 to $75,000 each for the 2010 season. The track had one graded race—the John C. Mabee—reduced from a grade I to a grade II since last summer, but another ungraded event—the Cougar II—moved up to grade III status. The track now has a total of 20 graded stakes—eight grade I's, nine grade II's and three grade III's.

The Del Mar/TVG deal was announced simultaneously with the release of the stakes schedule for Del Mar's 71st meeting. It offers $7.1 million in purses during the 37-day stand starting on July 21. The 2010 running of Del Mar's cornerstone race will be known as the Pacific Classic, Presented by TVG.

"We are delighted to have renewed our connection with TVG and in the process kept our brightest jewel shining," said Craig Fravel, DMTC president and general manager. "In these times where too many stakes races are either being sharply reduced or discontinued, we think it is noteworthy that the Pacific Classic will remain one of the few million dollar races for older horses in the United States."

The Pacific Classic, run at 1 1/4 miles, has offered a purse of $1 million since its inception in 1991. This season it will highlight a blockbuster racing card that also features the $300,000 Pat O'Brien Stakes (gr. I) and the $250,000 Del Mar Mile (gr. IIT).

"The Pacific Classic is one of the premier racing events of the year," said Tony Allevato, senior vice president and executive producer of TVG. "It presents a unique opportunity to bring innovation and new programming both for the race and the entire week leading up to the event."

TVG has been Del Mar's broadcast partner since the television company's inception in 1999. It also has served as one of the track's advance deposit wagering outlets since 2002. The sponsorship arrangement, however, is a first.

"TVG and its parent company, Betfair, are committed to support the best that U.S. racing has to offer," said Stephen Burn, CEO of TVG. "At a time when stakes purses are being cut across the country, we appreciate the commitment from Del Mar and the Thoroughbred Owners of California to maintain the Pacific Classic at the $1 million purse level."

The TOC worked closely with Del Mar and TVG in putting the package together. Marsha Naify, the chairperson for TOC, saluted the organizations for their efforts.

"For two companies to work together with horsemen like this for the good of the game is special," she said. "It gives everyone hope that we can find creative solutions to some of our problems and in the process do well for all involved."

Del Mar will once again race on a five-days-per-week basis throughout the summer from Wednesdays through Sundays. The lone exception will be Labor Day Monday, Sept. 6. Closing day will be Sept. 8.

The track has returned the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) to its closing day position after running it on Labor Day in 2009. The test for 2-year-olds is run at seven furlongs and often shines an early spotlight on potential Breeders' Cup and/or Triple Crown stars.

"We did have to trim back some of our stakes as we adjust purses in our current environment, but all in all I'm proud of the fact that we didn't lose any of our principal races and are looking forward to another successful summer," said Tom Robbins, Del Mar's executive vice president for racing and industry relations/racing secretary.

The sister race to the Futurity, the Darley Debutante (gr. I), will again be run on Saturday of Labor Day weekend (Sept. 4). The 2-year-old filly headliner is once more being sponsored by Darley, the world-wide racing and breeding operation of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai. In recent years the race has been a major steppingstone for seven different Juvenile Filly Eclipse Award winners.

Eight Del Mar stakes have again been designated "Win and You're In" contests, offering the victorious horses automatic starting spots in their corresponding Breeders' Cup championship races, which well be held this year at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5 and 6. The eight Del Mar races are: San Diego Handicap, Cougar II Handicap, John C. Mabee Stakes, Del Mar Mile, Del Mar Handicap, Rancho Bernardo Handicap, Pat O'Brien Stakes and Pacific Classic.