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Jul 16, 2010

American Turf Club Lead

By: Joe Girardi

            In just a couple of days the Del Mar and Saratoga meetings will be getting underway and the official start of Summer, at least in the horse racing world will begin. The track, “where the turf meets the surf” will open their doors on Wednesday July 21st and run through Wednesday September 8th.

            Opening day is also the One and Only Truly Fabulous Hats Contest, a contest that has four different categories, 1) Best Racing Theme, 2) Funniest of Most Outrageous, 3) Most Glamorous, 4) Best Flowers/allothers. This gets the meeting off to a good start and brings some people out to the track that may not have been there otherwise. But when we get down to it, the racing is always the most important event and the traditional Oceanside Stakes for three year olds will be run over one mile on the turf and carry a purse of $100,000. You get to some very good young turf horses and possibly some who are prepping for the Grade I Del Mar Derby which is run on September 5th.

            We get to our first Grade I Stakes on the first Saturday of the meeting, July 24th, when Del Mar hosts the Grade I Eddie Read Stakes, a race for three year olds and upward, run over 1 and 1/8th miles which carries a purse of $300,000. Some of the top older turf horses show up for this race and it gets the meeting off to a nice start.

            The following week on Sunday August 1st, Del Mar will host the Grade I Bing Crosby Stakes, a six furlong race for three year olds and upward and will carry a purse of $250,000. The top sprinters out west will definitely show up in this race but because it is run over Polytrack, we won’t see those who are eventually looking toward a Breeders’ Cup run, ship in for this event.

            The August 7th Clement L. Hirsch Stakes is the next Grade I on the calendar and is a race for fillies and mares, three years old and upward, run over 1 and 1/16th miles and will carry a purse of $300,000. This race holds much more significance because it is the next expected start for the undefeated mare ZENYATTA as she continues her run towards a possible Horse of the Year run and another undefeated season. The popular mare is good for the game and always draws a huge crowd, most of those people who generally don’t make it to the track otherwise.

            Two weeks later the Grade I Del Mar Oaks will be run on August 21st and is a race for three year old fillies and will be run over 1 and 1/8th miles on the turf. This certainly can have an impact on the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs in November.

            The following Saturday is the Grade I Pat O’Brien Stakes, for three years old and upward run over seven furlongs and carries a purse of $300,000. Another race that will have a big impact on the Breeders’ Cup in November as it is a “Win and You’re In” race; last year’s winner ZENSATIONAL was the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

            On the same day the highlight of the Del Mar Meeting is the Grade I Pacific Classic, for three year olds and upward run over 1 and ¼ miles and will carry a purse of $1 million dollars. Last year’s winner was a Bob Baffert upsetter, RICHARD’S KID who scored at 24-1 over EINSTEIN with slightly favored RAIL TRIP finishing third. RAIL TRIP who was dominant in his first two starts before losing the Hollywood Gold Cup with a rough trip was expected to point to this race and would have probably been a heavy favorite. However it was announced that he was going to be moved into the Richard Dutrow Jr. barn because the owners want him to get some dirt experience as the Breeders’ Cup is run at Churchill Downs over a conventional dirt course.

            The Del Mar Debutante run on Saturday September 4th for two year old fillies, carries a purse of $250,000 and is run over seven furlongs and is a Grade I. The final Grade I of the meeting will come on closing day when they host the Del Mar Futurity for two year olds, with a $250,000 purse and is also run at seven furlongs.

            If you are looking for more info on the Del Mar meeting, check out American Turf Monthly’s August issue as we cover both Del Mar and Saratoga meetings. Good luck!

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