Scuffle between protesters at Del Mar track ends with injury, arrest

Horse-racing protesters and counter-protesters gather Thursday, Aug. 22, before a regularly-scheduled meeting of the California Horse Racing Board in Del Mar.
(Bryce Miller / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

An incident between rival protesters at the Del Mar racetrack on Saturday, Aug. 24, resulted in a woman’s arrest and citation for misdemeanor battery and medical treatment for a man she allegedly pushed to the ground. According to a Del Mar Thoroughbred Club spokesman, the altercation occurred at 12:30 p.m. outside the front gates at Del Mar before racing began. Protesters who want to ban horse racing were in attendance, as well as a group of counter-protesters, some of whom are connected to thoroughbred owners and trainers.

While the parties were engaged in arguing, DMTC said a woman pushed a man to the ground. Doug O’Neill, a trainer at Del Mar who was part of the counter-protest, said he arrived to see the man sitting on the ground. He identified him as Tyler Cerin, the son of trainer Vladimir Cerin.

According to DMTC, the man was treated for unidentified injuries by on-site paramedics. There was no further information on his condition.

Sheriff’s deputies arrived, arrested the woman and transported her to a nearby sheriff’s station. According to a sheriff’s spokesman, the unidentified woman was cited and released.

Messages seeking comment from Vladimir Cerin and Tyler Cerin were not returned.

“These are supposed to be peaceful protests, with people expressing their views from each side,” O’Neill said. “It’s sad to see it come to violence.”

O’Neill estimated that there were approximately 60 pro-horse racing people in the crowd and 15 among the anti-racing people. Ellen Ericksen, who has led the anti-racing protests at Del Mar for years, also estimated her group to be at 15, but said she wasn’t sure how many there were among counter-protesters.

In a phone interview on Saturday, Ericksen said, “It’s been bad out there for five weeks (of the race meeting). It’s been horrible.

“I don’t condone any type of violence,” she said. “If someone feels an imminent threat, I clearly would defend myself also.”

Ericksen said she did not see the altercation, but contended that Tyler Cerin has been an “aggressive instigator” during the counter-protests and has verbally berated her on numerous occasions.

“These people who are there — they are loud and aggressive,” Ericksen said. “I’m not saying they don’t have a right to be there. They have as much right to protest as I do. But they’re very aggressive.”

-- Staff writer Pauline Repard contributed to this report.