Del Mar plans further adjustments to racing on its turf course following injuries on the new surface, which had been expanded and installed this past winter to replace its previous course that was more than 50 years old.
The changes, which will take effect immediately, will consist of the following items:
•No turf sprints will be conducted
•No races for claiming horses will be written for the turf
•Because of the provisions stated above, overall turf racing will be reduced by approximately one-third at the meet, allowing for additional aggressive maintenance
•Renown surface expert Dr. Michael (Mick) Peterson has been enlisted as a track consultant
•Pre-race inspections of all racehorses will be enhanced
•All racing at Del Mar will be conducted on its Polytrack main track through next Friday; turf racing is scheduled to return Saturday, Aug. 9
“We are doing everything within our power to ensure a safe turf course,” said DMTC president and CEO Joe Harper. “Our riders and our trainers have told us that it is a safe course from the start and they continue to support us in that regard. Preparing to resume turf racing next week will allow our crews to perform additional safety measures.”
Following the injury to a horse on the course Thursday, Del Mar announced that it would not conduct any grass racing through the current weekend. During that time – and into the coming week – track crews will further aerate the course and include additional watering on it in an attempt to provide additional softening to the surface.
Del Mar’s executive vice president for racing, Tom Robbins, said that the adjustments the track is making take all their earlier safety precautions yet another step ahead.
“Our turf sprints put extra stress on the course and by not running claiming horses on it we expect to be working with our very best horses,” he said. “We’ll aggressively aerate more, water more and – with the goal of returning to grass racing next weekend – we’ll have the inner turf rail out to 24 feet, basically racing our horses over a fresh surface.”
Del Mar has six different moves with its inner turf rail, going in six-foot increments from zero to 30 feet. Earlier in the meet it had raced at zero, six and 18 feet.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club officials noted that they had begun consultations with renowned surfaces expert Dr. Michael (Mick) Peterson, the executive director of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory, working in conjunction with the track’s turf superintendent Leif Dickinson.
“I am aware of the Del Mar turf course and all signs are that it is a safe one,” noted Peterson. “The measurements and readings I’ve seen indicate they are well within proper parameters. I’ve worked with Leif (Dickinson) in the past and have great confidence in his ability to do things the right way.”
Further, steps are being put in place to provide enhance pre-race inspections of all racehorses, something the track and state veterinarians conduct on racing days. All racehorses go through four different veterinary inspections – first in the morning, then on three other occasions throughout the day -- prior to racing in the afternoon.
Del Mar officials also stated that they will continue to work with the California Horse Racing Board safety stewards – in conjunction with their own safety steward – to be positive that all possible avenues have been explored in providing safety on the course.
Those same officials said they will continue full communication with their partners in racing in Southern California, the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the California Thoroughbred Trainers and the Jockeys Guild.
Del Mar’s 36-day meeting is scheduled to run through Wednesday, Sept. 3.
— Press release