Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Chief Executive Officer Joe Harper presented a trophy to Rancho Santa Fe residents Mary and Gary West (pictured) after their colt, Game Winner, won the Grade I, $300,000 Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 3.
Game Winner rallied in the stretch to prevail by 1 1/2 lengths over Rowayton, while the favorite, Roadster, was an additional half-length behind in third. The winner - with Mario Gutierrez in the saddle - was timed in 1:23.18 for 7 furlongs over the dirt surface.
“He (trainer Bob Baffert) told me, ‘You know how to ride good horses; go ahead and ride him like you can,’ ” Gutierrez said. “He said he wanted me to give him a little help out of the gate, then he said he thought he’d be strong for the finish. He was so right. I’m so happy for this opportunity; I’m so happy this worked out this way.”
In the other two stakes that day - which was Closing Day of the meet - Summering posted a win in the $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf, and Miss Sunset stayed unbeaten at the seaside oval with a victory in the $75,000 C.E.R.F. Stakes.
Del Mar had plenty of other action in its final week of racing. Highlights included wins by Bellafina (Grade I, $300,000 Del Mar Debutante), Ride a Comet (Grade II, $250,000 Del Mar Derby), Vasilika (Grade II, $200,000 John C. Mabee Stakes; owners include Dan Gatto of Olivenhain), Listing ($100,690 I’m Smokin Stakes), King of Speed ($100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Turf), and Creative Instinct ($100,000 Generous Portion Stakes; trained by Peter Miller of Encinitas).
Meet honors were also announced Sept. 3. Accelerate - who won the Grade I, $1 million TVG Pacific Classic - was named Horse of the Meeting. Drayden Van Dyke clinched his first Del Mar riding championship with 42 wins, while Miller cruised to his third training title at the track with 31 wins. And for the fourth time in six years, Kosta and Pete Hronis were the top owners, with 11 victories and $1,277,954 in earnings.
According to a news release, all-sources handle in 2018 rose 6.8 percent to $13.44 million per day. The wagering increase follows a 5.1 percent gain in all-sources handle in 2017, which averaged $12.58 million.
Racing will return to Del Mar this fall, from Nov. 9 through Dec. 2.