Del Mar racetrack is one of the most picturesque sporting venues in America. The track uses the slogan “where the turf meets the surf” and is located in Del Mar Fairgrounds which hosts the annual San Diego County Fair. The Grandstand overlooks the Pacific Ocean with mesmerizing panoramic views all part of the experience. It combines glamour, sophistication, and the excitement of horse racing.
The track hosts regular race-days throughout the summer months with racing typically taking place between July and September. There is an additional meet, which is a fairly recent development and takes place throughout November and early-December. It can hold up to 44,000 spectators at any time.
There are six Grade I contests throughout the year, with a large number of Grade II event also being staged throughout the year. Most weekends during the summer months tend to stage at least one graded race.
The main track is exactly one mile long with additional chutes for 7/8 mile and 1 ¼ mile. On the inside of the oval, there is a turf course which can stage races up to 1 1/16th and 1/18th mile. The turf track is created by a mix of Common Bermuda and Hybrid Bermuda.
Del Mar also has a poly-track surface and was one of the first venues in America to install an artificial course. It followed in the footsteps of Arlington. This addition cost around $9million, and although the California climate is fairly reliable, it allowed regular race-days to take place in November and December. Racing is often moved from the turf course to the artificial track during these months.
However, there is a distinct lack of interest in synthetic races in the region, and the track is planning to revert back to dirt in 2020.
Trevor Denman, who calls the races at Pimlico and Laurel Park, is synonymous with Del Mar, and he is the regular race-day announcer at the track. He coined the catchphrase, “And away they go.”
The track is one of the bigger venues in the region, and race-days tend to attract a number of large fields. Over 2,000 horses can be stabled at Del Mar racetrack at any given time. It sits alongside Del Mar Horse Park with the facility covering 65 acres. It includes a dressage ring, fully-lighted arena, and 400 permanent show stalls.
Del Mar History
Del Mar has a distinguished history and was opened in 1937. The track was opened by William A. Quigley with the help of Bing Crosby. They’d witnessed the success of Santa Anita race-track which has opened three years earlier. Crosby was at the gate to personally welcome all visitors to the track on the opening day.
Del Mar attracted national attention for the first time in 1938 when Seabiscuit took on Ligaroti in a winner-takes-all $25,000 contest. Racing was very much in the public spotlight at this time, and this fascinating battle prompted a number of column inches in America. It also attracted 20,000 spectators to the track, with visitors left on the edge of their seat by Sea Biscuit’s narrow victory.
The track continued to go from the strength-to-strength during the early-1940s with a number of celebrities visiting the track. Dorothy Lamour, W.C Fields, and Ava Gardner were all spotted in California. Crowds also continued to climb with over 7,500 spectators visiting each day during 1941’s 32-day meet.
Del Mar was closed for three years between 1942 and 1944 due to the Second World War. The Marines trained at the track during these years. Upon re-opening, the track recorded a wagering record of $958,476.
One of the key races at the track, the Bing Crosby Stakes was first staged at the track in 1946. Indian Watch and War Allies could not be separated, and the result was declared a dead-heat.
The Santa Fe Railroad also started to bring horsemen and spectators from Los Angeles which helped boost attendances and field sizes. Meanwhile, famous jockey Bill Shoemaker continued to dominate at the track.
Bumper crowds were announced once again in 1952 with a daily average of 10,433 during their 42-day meet. Prize money also continued to rise during this period, with over $130,000 added to the purse.
The new turf track was rolled out in the early 1960s and proved to be an instant success. It allowed races of up to 1 mile 1/8th to be staged at Del Mar. The track also attempted to start a fall meet, but there was a lack of interest, and this was subsequently canceled.
A number of new races were added to the schedule in the 1970s including the Rocking Chair Derby which showcased a number of former riders. Dean Hall won the inaugural race.
Bing Crosby made his final visit to the track in 1977 shortly before his death.
During the 1980s, Trevor Denman took to the mic for the first time and spectators were allowed to the infield area. Attendance continues to climb, and there was also a significant hike on purse money. Bill Shoemaker’s final ride at the track came on September 10th, 1989.
Del Mar hosted the richest race on record at the start of the 1990s with the $1,000,000 Pacific Classic. Meanwhile, the track underwent a number of major renovations with the old Grandstand being demolished as it made way for a replacement. The new $80 million structure is finally unveiled in 1993.
The track made headlines in 1996 once again as Cigar aimed to become a record-breaker at Del Mar. However, he was unable to win against Dare and Go.
Del Mar decided to switch its target audience in the early-2000s and rebranded itself as a fashionable destination. The slogan “Cool as Ever” was introduced and jockey Chantal Sutherland became the face of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. The Opening day soon became synonymous with fashion, specifically hats.
In 2006, the track boasted the second highest ever attendance on opening day with 42,005 people coming through the gates. This record was subsequently beaten just two years later.
More racing was added to the card following the closure of Hollywood Park in 2014. Three years later, Del Mar hosted the Breeders Cup for the first time.
Del Mar Known Track Bias
The general consensus appears to be that Del Mar favors front-running tactics, particularly on the main track. Early speed is preferable at this venue with many of those breaking quickly from the gate going on to enjoy success at the California track
The turns are relatively tight at Del Mar, and that can also negatively affect horses that are drawn high in big fields. Ahead of the Breeders, Italian-born jockey Frankie Detorri warned handicappers about the dangers of being drawn on the outside. This tends to predominantly affect the turf course.
Getting yourself out of the gate quickly is absolutely imperative at Del Mar, and although late pace is handy, it is better to be a front-runner here.
Del Mar has one of the shortest stretches in North America, which plays into the front-running tactics deployed by many winners at the track. At the top of the stretch, you’re almost home!
Finally, there is a horses-for-courses element to Del Mar. Many handicappers have theorized about the reasons for this, and it could be a mix of underfoot conditions, climate, and sea air, but horses who win at Del Mar tend to rack up multiple successes at this venue.
Winning Post Positions Del Mar
In the last meet (Summer 2018), on the main track, there was a mix of results for horses competing in sprint events. None of the 13 runners drawn on the inside in five-furlong events entered the winner’s enclosure. However, horses drawn in stall five over the minimum trip were the most successful.
Over the five-and-a-half furlong trip, horses drawn in stalls five, six and seven were the most successful. However, three of the eight runners drawn in stall eleven were also winners.
There was a notable strike rate for horses drawn in stall seven for sprint races held over six furlongs. 23% of winners came from this position. However, it was a different story in races over six-and-a-half furlongs with just 9% of winners being drawn here. None of the thirteen runners drawn in stalls 11 and 12 went on to enjoy success at the track.
Once again, stalls six and seven were the most successful in races held over seven furlongs. Stall four had a very poor return with no winners being drawn here over this distance.
There was a decent return for the inside position in races held over a mile. 16% of winners came from this spot. However, it was six and seven that were the most successful positions once again.
There was only a small sample of races held over a distance of beyond the mile during the summer 2018 meet. However, the inside stalls proved the most profitable for handicappers.
Sprint events on the turf yielded a mix of results with stalls three and six posting the best results. Remarkably, three of the four winners posted in stall eleven were victorious.
There was no obvious pattern to races held over the mile with stall two coming out narrowly on top. Races over the 1 mile 1/16th narrowly favored stall ten, but there was also moderate success for the inside positions. Stall five saw three of the eight winners in races staged over 1 mile 1/8th.
Top Trainers at Del Mar
There are a number of horsemen who regularly send their runners to this track. Key races throughout the season also attract top trainers who ship their thoroughbreds across from other areas.
There are a number of trainers who should be noted whenever they send a runner to Del Mar.
Summer 2018/Winter 2018 Meet:
Brian Koriner (37% Strike Rate)
Mark Glatt (33% Strike Rate)
Peter Miller (32% Strike Rate)
Jerry Hollendorfer (23% Strike Rate)
Bob Baffert (16% Strike Rate)
Phillip D’Amato (15% Strike Rate)
Doug O’Neill (14% Strike Rate)
Richard Baltas (10% Strike Rate)
Top Jockeys at Del Mar
There are plenty of jockeys to keep an eye on at Del Mar.
Stats for 2018:
Joel Rosario (33% Strike Rate)
Drayden Van Dyke (26% Strike Rate)
Joseph Talamo (21% Strike Rate)
Geovanni Franco (19% Strike Rate)
Flavien Prat (19% Strike Rate)
Rafael Bejarano (16% Strike Rate)
Mike E Smith (15% Strike Rate)
Heriberto Figueroa (14% Strike Rate)
Del Mar Racing Season and Key Races
Racing at Del Mar typically takes place throughout July, and it continues until early September. Races are held Wednesday-Sunday with an additional Monday meet held on Labor Day. Racing recommences in early November and concludes at the beginning of December.
There are a number of key races taking place at the track including a host of Grade I and Grade II events.
Bing Crosby Stakes, Clement L Hirsch Handicap, Del Mar Debutante Stakes, Del Mar Oaks, Del Mar Futurity, Pacific Classic Stakes
Best Pal Stakes, Del Mar Mile, Del Mar Derby, Del Mar Handicap, Eddie Read Stakes, Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes, John C Mabee Stakes, Pat O’Brien Handicap, Palomar Breeders Cup Handicap, San Clemente Handicap, San Diego Handicap, Seabiscuit Handicap, Yellow Ribbon Handicap.
Bob Hope Stakes, Cecil B Demille Handicap, Cougar II Handicap, Jimmy Durante Stakes, La Jolla Handicap, Native Diver Handicap, Rancho Bernardo Handicap, Red Carpet Handicap, Sorrento Stakes, Torrey Pines Handicap.
Del Mar Racetrack Address
2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar, CA, 92014, USA