Del Mar Summer Meet Offers 41 Stakes at $7.3 Million
Del Mar Racetrack will present 41 stakes races worth $7,300,000 over the course of the 36-day session scheduled for 2018. Racing alongside the blue Pacific this year will begin on Wednesday, July 18 and carry forward to Labor Day Monday, September 3 for what will be the track's 79th season.
The seaside oval's richest and most prestigious afternoon will come on Saturday, August 18 when the $1,000,000 Pacific Classic will be served up for the 28th time as the highlight of a stakes-filled card.
Last year the seaside oval also presented 41 stakes worth $7.3 million during a 36-day run, underpinning one of its most accomplished seasons ever. The robust stakes schedule on both occasions offered/offers 33 "advertised" stakes carrying purses from $100,000 to $1,000,000 and eight "overnight" stakes worth $75,000 each.
The advertised stakes include 21 graded events, six of them Grade I (the Pacific Classic is one), 11 at Grade II and four at Grade III.
The Classic, which is the west's only $1-million race for older horses, is run at a mile and one quarter for 3-year-olds and up. It tops a stakes triple-header afternoon that also will offer the Grade I, $300,000 Del Mar Oaks and the Grade II, $250,000 Del Mar Handicap. The Oaks, for 3-year-old fillies, is run at nine furlongs, while the Handicap, an 11-furlong marathon, is for 3-year-olds and up. Both of those races will be contested over the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.
Nineteen of the stakes will be run on the grass with the other 22 on the main track. Del Mar's turf course was expanded and totally replaced prior to the 2014 season, while the main track was returned to dirt (after an eight-year run with the synthetic Polytrack) in 2015.
"We're very pleased to be able to offer the same stakes schedule as last year," said Del Mar's racing secretary, David Jerkens. "Some stakes programs across the country are declining a bit, but we are holding the line at Del Mar. We saw a lot of new owners and trainers here last fall because of the Breeders' Cup and we heard a lot of positive reviews. We're hopeful some of those outfits will be back for stakes races this summer."
Though the schedule stays the same for value and timing, there are a few minor tweaks put in place for this year. One of them is with the distances of the track's two main juvenile prep races for their premier 2-year-old offerings - the Del Mar Debutante and the Del Mar Futurity. The Deb prep - the $200,000 Sorrento Stakes on Sunday, August 5 - and the Futurity warm-up - the $200,000 Best Pal Stakes on Saturday, August 11 - both have been shortened in distance to six furlongs from their previous standard of six and one-half furlongs.
Additionally, two California-bred races - the $100,000 Generous Portion Stakes for 2-year-old fillies and the $100,000 I'm Smokin Stakes for 2-year-olds - have both been restricted to non-winners of a stakes race of $50,000.
As in previous summer seasons, five of Del Mar's key stakes have been scheduled as Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" races, meaning a victory in any of them will guarantee the winning horse an entry - with all fees paid - in the corresponding Breeders' Cup divisional race, along with a travel bonus if the horse is based outside Kentucky.
One of the "Win and You're In" races is the Pacific Classic, which guarantees admission to the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic. Besides the $600,000 winner's share of the purse, the victorious Pacific Classic horse also has his or her pre-entry and entry fees to the BC Classic covered - a savings of $150,000 - as well as a travel bonus - either $10,000 (national) or $40,000 (international) - granted to a Breeders' Cup horse (coming from outside Kentucky) for the capstone event of the Breeders' Cup programs held at Churchill Downs this year on November 2 and 3.
Besides the Pacific Classic, Del Mar's other stakes with direct Breeders' Cup ties are the $300,000, Grade I Bing Crosby Stakes on Saturday, July 28 (guaranteeing admission to the Breeders' Cup Sprint); $300,000, Grade I Clement L. Hirsch Stakes on Sunday, July 29 (BC Distaff); the Del Mar Handicap (BC Turf), and the Grade II, $200,000 Pat O'Brien Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs on Saturday, August 25 (BC Dirt Mile).
The track once more will race five-days-per-week (Wednesday through Sunday) for the entire summer, finishing with a six-day week concluding on the Labor Day holiday. Post time throughout the session will be the normal 2 p.m. with the exception of Fridays ("Four O'Clock Fridays") when the first race goes off at 4 p.m. for the first five of those days, then at 3:30 for the last two (August 24 and 31).
Three New Wagers Added to Del Mar's 2018 Betting Menu
Del Mar's betting menu, which last year offered 14 different wagers for seaside investors, will grow by three new bets this summer when the 36-day session gets off and running on Wednesday, July 18.
The track's bet roster, which starts with the traditional win, place and show wagers and expands out to several five- and six-horse combinations, now will tack on the following trio of offerings during the shore oval's seven-week stand:
- An early Pick Four starting on Race 2 daily that will be a .50¢ minimum wager.
- A late Pick Five offered on the last five races daily. It, too, will be a .50¢ minimum bet.
- A Win, Place, Show Parlay available for a minimum of two races and a maximum of six. It is a $2 bet.
In addition to its new Early Pick Four, the track will continue to offer its usual Pick Four on the last four races on the day's card, a bet that has proven to be one of the most popular in the country and regularly registers $1-million-plus pools on weekends. The late Pick Five also will be similar to the track's early Pick Five held on the day's initial five events. And the Win, Place, Show Parlay will be presented using the standard single-bet W-P-S takeout of 15.43% instead of a multi-bet takeout that goes above 20%.
Del Mar will continue with its $2 Pick Six on all racing days, along with the "Single Ticket Jackpot" addition to it that the track introduced during its 2016 fall season. Under the "Jackpot" rules, a separate pool accumulates alongside the regular one if nobody hits the bet as a lone ticket holder. This allows for a large separate pool to grow even in the case of a "hit' on the Pick Six by two or more players. The "Jackpot" pool often reaches six figures in fairly rapid order and can be expected to do so throughout the stand.
And, as it did last summer, Del Mar will schedule two "mandatory payouts" on the "Jackpot" pool: first on Pacific Classic Day (Saturday, August 18), then on Closing Day, Monday, September 3. That means that a Pick Six winner on either of those dates would share not only in the regular pool, but the full "Jackpot" pool besides. Further, consolation winners on those days also would share in the "Jackpot" payout.
"We've got something for everyone this year," said Del Mar's Director of Mutuels, Bill Navarro. "And with the updated tax wagering rules (installed at the end of 2017) that have significantly reduced IRS reporting and withholding now firmly in place and expediting betting on all fronts, we're expecting a fine summer at the pari-mutuel windows all around."
The full array of Del Mar bets is as follows: $2 win, place and show (all races); $1 Exacta (all); $2 Quinella (all); .50¢ Trifecta (all); $2 Rolling Doubles (all except last); $1 Rolling Pick 3 (all except last two); $1 Superfecta (.10¢ minimum - all); $1 Place Pick All (starts w/Race 1 or 2); $1 Super High 5 (last); $2 Pick Six (last six); .50¢ Players' Pick 5 (first five and last five); .50¢ Pick 4 (Races 2 thru 5 and last four), and $2 Win-Place-Show Parlay (all races but last).