Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

Del mar RacetrackOn the California circuit of thoroughbred horseracing there is no meet that can quite compare to the one hosted by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. The race meet at Del Mar is what is known as a “boutique” and only runs for a few short weeks from July to September each year. Many of the nation’s top horses, trainers, and jockeys compete at Del Mar because the meet is so prestigious and the purses are very good.

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Known by the nickname “Where the Surf Meets the Turf,” Del Mar opened in 1937 and was originally owned by a group of celebrity partners that included Jimmy Durante and Oliver Hardy. Perhaps the most famous partner, however, was Bing Crosby. Crosby was a huge fan of racing and even owned a horse that competed against the legendary Seabiscuit! It was the influence of Crosby more than the others that put Del Mar on the map.

Del Mar is one of the United States racetracks to embrace the use of Polytrack, or artificial running surface. Advocates of Polytrack argue that the artificial surface is easier on the horses and that fewer breakdowns during a race occur. While there is not enough data yet to support or denounce this claim, Polytrack does seem to affect aspects of handicapping. It may be that the surface favors front-running speed types over pace pressers or deep closers. Bear this in mind when handicapping the Del Mar meet!

The marquee event of the Del Mar meet is the Grade 1 Pacific Classic for older runners. In 2012, Dullahan set a track record by winning the race in 1:59.54 for the 1 ¼ miles.  Three horses have managed to win the Pacific Classic twice. The last of these was Richard’s Kid with consecutive victories in 2009-2010. Before he passed away, trainer Bobby Frankel dominated the Pacific Classic with six victories.

Laffit Pincay, quite possibly the greatest jockey of all time, holds the record for number of wins at Del Mar with 1,011. Chris McCarron notched 134 stakes victories at Del Mar, putting him atop the list in that category. Both men are in the racing Hall of Fame. The current record for most wins is held by trainer Mike Mitchell while Bob Baffert, the trainer of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, holds the most stakes victories.

Graded Stakes run at Del Mar:

Grade 1
Bing Crosby Handicap
Clement L. Hirsch Handicap
Del Mar Debutante Stakes
Del Mar Futurity
Del Mar Oaks
Eddie Read Handicap
John C. Mabee Handicap
Pacific Classic Stakes

Grade 2
Best Pal Stakes
Del Mar Mile Handicap
Del Mar Derby
Del Mar Handicap
La Jolla Handicap
Palomar Breeders’ Cup Handicap
Pat O’Brien Handicap
San Clemente Handicap
San Diego Handicap

Grade 3
Cougar II Handicap
Rancho Bernardo Handicap
Sorrento Stakes


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