Del Mar to Offer Record Stakes Purses in 2005

(from Del Mar release)
Enhanced by three purse increases, Del Mar will offer the richest and most expansive stakes schedule in its 66-year history when racing returns on July 20.

This summer's stakes program consists of 29 major events worth a record $6,775,000. The new schedule offers an additional $450,000 in stakes purses and two new races over last year's record slate, which helped drive the track to its most successful season ever.

The robust roster is, of course, topped by the track's premier event, the $1 million Pacific Classic (gr. I) on August 21. For 3-year-olds and up, it will be presented for the 15th time at 1 1/4 miles as the spotlight race in Del Mar's season.

Leading the changes this year are a $100,000 enhancement and surface switch from dirt to turf for the Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap, a grade II mile that will be offered on Sept. 4 as part of the track's seven-stakes Labor Day weekend cards. The race, which previously carried a $250,000 purse, now will be worth $350,000 and be presented on Del Mar's newly sodded Jimmy Durante Turf Course for the first time in its 19-year history.

On that same Labor Day weekend, the track will serve up two new 3-year-old stakes events, the Torrey Pines Stakes for fillies and the El Cajon Stakes.

The Torrey Pines and the El Cajon have been part of Del Mar's overnight stakes program since the 1970's, but this year their purses are bolstered as they move onto the track's stakes roster. Each race will be run at a mile on the main track for a purse of $100,000 with the Torrey Pines spotted on Sept. 2 and the El Cajon placed on Sept. 3.

The final notable adjustment to the schedule is the augmentation of Del Mar's two premier sprint stakes, the Bing Crosby (gr. I) and Pat O'Brien (gr. II) handicaps. The Crosby, slated for July 31 at six furlongs, will have its purse elevated from $250,000 to $300,000. The O'Brien, which will be presented August 21 at seven furlongs, will jump from $200,000 to $300,000.

"This is probably the most exciting stakes schedule we've ever presented at Del Mar," said Joe Harper, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club's president and general manager. "We've made it richer, bigger and better – and you can't do much more than that."

Besides the Pacific Classic and the Bing Crosby, the other grade I tests are the $400,000 John C. Mabee Handicap for fillies and mares (turf) on July 23; the $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap (turf) on July 24; $300,000 Del Mar Oaks for 3-year-old fillies (turf) on August 20, and the $250,000 Del Mar Debutante for 2-year-old fillies on August 27.