Record wagering and highly-competitive quality racing highlighted Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s eight-week summer race meet which concluded its 31-day stand on Labor Day, September 6.
The 82nd summer season at the seaside oval welcomed back racing fans who participated enthusiastically to help set a Del Mar record for daily average wagering of $18.38 million, the highest in the track’s long history. Top-of-the-line racing flowed daily with a highly competitive jockey colony and a deeply experienced training corps putting on a show each afternoon that was enhanced by some of the sweetest weather Del Mar has experienced in many seasons.
“Terrific, simply terrific,” said Del Mar CEO Joe Harper. “We had our fans come back this year and we put on a show of shows for them. The racing was first-rate, the wagering was over the moon and Del Mar was Del Mar again in all its glory. Special, very special.”
The handle numbers raced past an impressive 2020 racing season when “stuck at home” horse players went all out and set a record for daily average handle at $17.32 million. The total handle for the 2021 meet was $569.98 million for 31 days of racing. The 2020 total handle – for 27 days of racing – was $467.60 million.
Field size, often a key driver of wagering, improved as well. In 2020, the track had an exceptional 8.36 horses per race, one of the best marks in the country. In 2021 – running four more days this year than last (31 vs. 27) – that number rose to 8.45.
“Our horsemen and horsewomen were excellent in responding to the goals we set out to bolster our Southern California horse population,” said Del Mar executive vice president of racing Tom Robbins. “We substantially increased purses and incentive bonuses and they replied in fine fashion. When you realize that other meets across the country are struggling with horse population, we feel we’re fortunate to receive the strong participation form owners and trainers coming. Our core racing product was excellent.”
The track’s popular “Ship & Win” program in its 11th season offered its highest engagement bonus at $4,000 in addition to 50% and 40% purse supplements. It attracted 181 horses from across the country – as opposed to 104 in 2020 – with the majority of them owned and trained by Southern Californians.
Racing fans got to see some stellar performances by potential champions across the summer. Old pro United took down the Eddie Read Stakes; Shedaresthedevil sparkled in the Clement L. Hirsch; Princess Grace took the Yellow Ribbon handily; Astronaut, Mo Forza and Going Global bested their competition on the turf course. Tripoli rose to the top in the TVG Pacific Classic. Medina Spirit made his return to racing memorable. Flightline wowed the crowd on closing weekend. Grace Adler and Pinehurst proved to be juvenile stars.
“Another amazing summer in the books”, said Thoroughbred Owners of California, Gary Fenton. “A big thank you to DMTC. After months of planning and hard work they hit a grand slam for us and continue to provide our membership with an incredible racing experience.”
Del Mar will return to action on Wednesday, November 3 for the start of its 15-day Bing Crosby Season which this year will feature the 38th running of the Breeders’ Cup Championships on Friday, November 5 and Saturday, November 6.