With the invitation to “play where the turf meets the surf”, the Del Mar horseracing season starts on July 18 with the Oceanside Stakes, opening day party and the “One and Only Truly Fabulous Hats Contest”. The season ends on September 5 with a party in the paddock following the running of the C.E.R.F. Stakes, Pirate’s Bounty Stakes, Oak Tree Juvenile Turf and the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity.
An announcement by the New York Racing Association stated that it would limit the number of 2-year-olds in maiden sprint races to ten at New York’s Saratoga Springs racecourse. The new ruling aims to improve the quality of races with more cleanly run events. Generally, the decision has been welcomed as many have expressed concern over the packed field which often included as many as twelve contestants.
Del Mar has decided to limit the number of starters in maiden sprint and route races to ten. Stakes races will not be affected by the new ruling. Executive vice president and racing secretary for Del Mar noted that he had being trying for a number of years to reduce the number of 2-year-olds competing in races, but the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) were against the idea. Renowned trainer Bob Baffert revealed that he had been trying for years to get Del Mar to agree to the reduced numbers, noting that young horses battle to develop in large fields.
TOC president Lou Raffeto Jr. reportedly wrote in an email that the TOC has agreed to reduce the number of starters to ten in all maiden 2-year-old races, adding that this was with the understanding that if such races drew sixteen contestants the race would be split, except in the case of conflicting times with a scheduled book race.
While the NYRA will be reducing the number of contestants in these races to eight, Del Mar has chosen to limit their runners to ten, making allowances for the fact that there are often scratches due to sickness or injury, and working off a base of eight horses, the field could be reduced to five or six horses in a race. How the ruling will impact on the track’s profit remains to be seen in the upcoming 2012 racing season at Del Mar.