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Del Mar a Welcome Sight on California Scene

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With California’s equine business reeling from the July 16 announcement from 1/ST Racing that it might shut Golden Gate Fields later this yr, the state’s racing scene receives a much-needed supply of optimism July 21 when Del Mar opens for its 31-day summer season meet.

The favored seaside monitor 20 miles north of San Diego is a vacation spot for horsemen and followers alike, with tickets for its Friday opener already offered out. Equine entries for Friday are additionally in abundance, with 113 entries and 11 also-eligibles in 10 races—an early continuation of the monitor’s success final yr when it averaged 9.14 runners per race, far above business norms, notably in California. Horseplayers responded by betting a each day common of $18.7 million.

Excluding a couple of promotions—comparable to an opening-day $1-million assure for a single ticket Decide Six winner—few adjustments from final yr are in retailer on the monitor “The place The Turf Meets The Surf.” As in 2022, Del Mar is once more staging 39 main stakes and record-equaling stakes purses of $8.275 million, starting with the standard opening-day characteristic, the restricted $100,000 Oceanside Stakes for 3-year-olds. The one-mile grass race is a prep for the $300,000 Del Mar Derby (G2T) at 1 1/8 miles Sept. 3.

Company , Ah Jeez , Classical Cat , Conclude , Escape Artist , Game Time , Mr Fisk , and Panic Alarm  are among the 14 entered.

“I think it’s a lot better race this year than the last couple of years in terms of quality and depth. That should get us to a good start,” Del Mar vice president and racing secretary David Jerkens said.

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Game Time and Panic Alarm are both owned by Hronis Racing and trained by John Sadler, with the latter 3-year-old an import from Europe and the former a two-length winner of the Alcatraz Stakes at Golden Gate Fields May 28.

Game Time wins the $75,000 Alcatraz Stakes at Golden Gate Fields. Owned by Hronis Racing LLC, trained by John Sadler and ridden by Armando Ayuso in a mile turf race. VASSAR PHOTOGRAPHY/RONNIE WACKERLY

Photo: VASSAR PHOTOGRAPHY/RONNIE WACKERLY

Game Time wins the $75,000 Alcatraz Stakes at Golden Gate Fields

Game Time “fits the condition very well, a stakes winner in Northern California this year. He runs a good race every time,” Sadler said. “Panic Alarm is a horse we bought as a yearling over there in Europe (with the ticket signed by BBA Ireland). He was up there in Ireland and ran at Royal Ascot, didn’t run very well, but has got here and done pretty well.”

Both Jerkens and Sadler spent the early portions of their careers in Northern California, with Sadler running some of his first horses in the late 1970s at defunct Bay Meadows, and Jerkens spending about 10 years at Golden Gate, becoming racing secretary there prior to accepting his current position at Del Mar.

“I hope everyone lands on their feet,” Jerkens said of those impacted by Golden Gate’s impending closure. “Been around a million racetracks, and the community there and people there are second to none. I hope it works out for them in the end.”

A year ago, it was Sadler who trained the star of the Del Mar summer meet in Flightline , who took the monitor’s signature race, the $1.05 million Pacific Traditional (G1) by a document 19 1/4 lengths. A begin later, he would roll within the Breeders’ Cup Traditional (G1) at Keeneland on his way to being honored as Horse of the Year.

Superstar Flightline and jockey Flavien Prat win the Grade I, $1,000,000 Pacific Classic Saturday, September 3, 2022 at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Del Mar, CA.  <br />
Benoit Photo” src=”https://cms-images.bloodhorse.com/i/bloodhorse-images/2022/09/7b5a55191bb84156bcd9d38c8253a940.jpg?preset=medium” style=”border-width: 0px;” title=”Superstar Flightline and jockey Flavien Prat win the Grade I, $1,000,000 Pacific Classic Saturday, September 3, 2022 at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Del Mar, CA.  <br />
Benoit Photo”/>Photo: Benoit Photo</p>
<p>Flightline wins the Pacific Classic at Del Mar</p>
</p>
<p>A month and a half before this year’s Pacific Classic, which will again be run the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, Sept. 2, there is no horse of his quality pointed for the 1 1/4-mile race. Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) winner Defunded , trained by Bob Baffert, is the West Coast’s top prospect for the race, with more likely to join the mix after Del Mar stages the 1 1/16-mile San Diego Handicap (G2) July 29.</p>
<p>Flightline gave Sadler his fourth win in the Pacific Classic, all coming within the past five runnings. Hronis Racing owned all four, Flightline in partnership and solely with <a target=Tripoli  (2021), Higher Power (2019), and Accelerate (2018). Speed up additionally gained the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Traditional and an Eclipse Award as champion older male that yr.

“I’ve a horse known as Missed The Cut  that is going to run in the San Diego,” Sadler said. “He really looks like a mile-and-a-quarter horse.”

After making seven starts overseas, Missed The Cut, a son of Quality Road , was second in a June 11 allowance race at Santa Anita Park in his United States debut for owners Bee Zee, Lanes End Racing, St. Elias Stables, Edward Babington, Edward J. Hudson Jr., and Lynne Hudson.

The Pacific Classic is one of six races that Del Mar will run as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In—races that provide paid, automatic berths into designated Breeders’ Cup races. The Pacific Classic winner earns a berth in the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita.

John Sadler at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., on Oct. 23, 2022Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

John Sadler

“We think we’re going to be there in some of those big races, just going to be more of a normal course than last year,” said Sadler, a three-time training champion at Del Mar.

With 12 winners last year, Sadler tied for eighth in the summer standings, trailing Phil D’Amato and Baffert, who tied for first with 19 wins apiece.

Juan Hernandez ran away with the riding title, outpacing Umberto Rispoli, Ramon Vasquez, and Mike Smith. Hernandez also won the 2021 title during Del Mar’s shorter fall meet.

Without gaming to supplement purses in California, Del Mar’s overnight purses do not reach the levels seen by some tracks in other regions of the country, though they are competitive. Maiden purses at Del Mar will be contested for $82,000, the highest maiden purses in California history.

Working with Thoroughbred Owners of California, Del Mar is again offering overnight purse bonuses available via the track’s lucrative “Ship & Win” incentive program and its maiden dirt bonus program.

“We have to do it the old-fashioned way out in California,” Del Mar executive vice president of racing and industry relations Tom Robbins said of luring participants.

Outside of the older male dirt division, graded stakes winners Offlee Naughty , Twilight Gleaming , and Window Shopping  were among the horses that breezed July 18 at Del Mar, likely indicative of upcoming starts at the meet.

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club executive vice president, racing and industry relations Tom Robbins (L) and racing secretary David JerkensPhoto: Benoit Photo

(LR): Del Mar executives Tom Robbins and David Jerkens

According to Jerkens, eastern-based trainers Jonathan Thomas, Tom Proctor, Rowan Crichton, and Jerry O’Dwyer are sending horses to stable at Del Mar this summer, most for the first time and Proctor after an absence over the past few years. Robertino Diodoro, Patrick Biancone, Amador Sanchez, Todd Fincher, and Jeff Engler are also set to return after racing at Del Mar last summer, Jerkens added.

The track has other draws, with dry weather that rarely results in a race being moved off the grass, and with far cooler summer temperatures than other parts of Southern California.

“It’s also not a bad thing to be only 100 yards from the Pacific Ocean,” Robbins said.

Del Mar is a meet to which California horsemen regularly point their best horses after the May and June doldrums of the long Santa Anita Park season and lesser summer afternoon racing of the Los Angeles County Fair at Los Alamitos Race Course. Two-year-old racing also gets in full swing during summer at Del Mar, culminating with the Del Mar Futurity (G1) and Del Mar Debutante (G1) late in the meet.

“For me, personally, I’ve got lots of horses to run—a lot of different categories,” Sadler said. “I’m excited to get them going.”

Entries: Caesars Sportsbook Oceanside S.

Del Mar, Friday, July 21, 2023, Race 8

STK1mTurf $100,0003 yo5:30 PM (local)

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