03/31/2015 1:06PM

Bonus program expands to all major California tracks

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ARCADIA, Calif. – A program to financially reward owners and trainers for bringing race-ready horses to Del Mar expands to the entire Southern California circuit on Thursday.

Known as “Ship and Win,” the program has two levels of incentives – a 30 percent purse bonus in a horse’s first start in an overnight race and a $1,000 appearance fee for a horse’s first start in Southern California. Horses are eligible if they have not raced in California in the last year and are not first-time starters. The incentives will be available at Del Mar, Los Alamitos, and Santa Anita.

“This is a way to encourage owners who were thinking of shipping a horse here,” said Rick Hammerle, Santa Anita’s racing secretary. “Now that it’s year-round, you don’t have to wait for a certain time frame.”

In 2011, the program’s first year, 107 horses from outside of California were eligible for the bonuses at the Del Mar summer meeting, and that rose to 187 horses last summer. Del Mar officials have credited the program with helping to increase average field size at that meeting from 8.1 runners per race in 2010 to 8.8 runners in 2014.

The program is financed by the racetracks; the Thoroughbred Owners of California, from purse funds; and the California Marketing Committee, which receives a portion of satellite wagers to promote racing.

◗ Santa Anita has added a day of racing to its spring-summer meeting, pushing forward opening day from Saturday, April 25, to Friday, April 24. The meeting runs through Sunday, June 28.