Storm can’t dampen Del Mar opener; Gabriel Charles wins $400K stakes race


Thunderstorms and heavy rain wreaked havoc and caused delays at the Del Mar racetrack on opening weekend, but they didn’t stop the racing action.

“When I got in here, it was total chaos,” said track superintendent Richard Tedesco on Sunday. “Lightning, thunder and rain pouring down. We had to shut down the main track because of lightning in the area, that’s a rule. And we shut down the training track as well. We missed about 45 minutes of training.

“But when they got back out on it, the jockeys going past were all giving me a thumbs-up. The track held up well. I’m proud of my crew for the job they did.”

On Saturday, the Grade I, $400,000 Eddie Read Stakes was run over a yielding turf course, and Gabriel Charles and jockey Mike Smith powered past the competition in the stretch to win by 3 3/4 lengths. Twentytwentyvision was second, followed by Finnegans Wake. Favored Midnight Storm finished fifth.

“I don’t think it rained on the turf course; only the main track,” Smith quipped. “It was plenty fast.”

The 5-year-old Gabriel Charles completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.13. He is owned by Sam Britt and Michael House, and trained by Jeff Mullins.

In the other stakes race on Saturday’s card, Gas Total got up in the final strides to win the $88,480 Osunitas Stakes.

On Sunday, Prize Exhibit was victorious in the Grade II, $200,000 San Clemente Handicap.