Opening Day at Del Mar
The first day of Del Mar’s 75th Anniversary season drew record crowds of spectators with record-breaking wagering taking place…
More than 47,000 spectators attended the event, with $14.2 million in bets beating last year's figure of $13.2 million by a cool million dollars. Miss California, with Chantal Sutherland on board, passed the finish line in first place in the first race of the day, making it the first opening day win for trainer Kristin Mullal. With Del Mar's opening day attendance figures showing an increase every year for the past eight years, it’s clear that horseracing continues to be an immensely popular sport.
Following her win in the first race of the day, jockey Chantal Sutherland reportedly noted that horse racing is a tough game where one minute you're on top and winning and the next "you’re gum at the bottom of someone’s shoe" – a remark that appeared somewhat prophetic when she took a tumble from Sir Hamilton just out of the gate on the seventh race. The jockey was checked at the first-aid station, found to be fit, and she took to the track again in the tenth race.
The two divisions of the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes was split by trainers Julio Canani and Bob Baffert, with the latter winning the first division with Midnight Crooner ridden by jockey Rafael Bejarano. Bred and owned by Arnold Zetcher, Midnight Crooner is a 3-year-old colt by War Chant out of Midnight Kiss. In a post-race interview Baffert noted that it was great to win at Del Mar, particularly on opening day. The second division of the Oceanside Stakes was won by My Best Brother, bringing trainer Julio Canani's Oceanside Stakes wins up to four. My Best Brother is jointly owned by veteran breeder, owner and trainer Bill Currin and businessman Al Eisman.
Sadly highlighting how tough racing can be on the equine athletes, 2-year-old Playful Council had to be euthanized after breaking his left front leg on the fifth race.
Spectators no doubt agree with Del Mar Thoroughbred Club president and CEO Joe Harpers comment that opening day at Del Mar is hard to describe, going on to say that "it's a crazy day with a life of its own. There are no soft openings at Del Mar".