07/26/2014 9:48PM

Breakdowns prompt Sunday's turf races to be moved to main track

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Citing concern over a turf course that has seen three horses fatally injured in the last 48 hours, Joe Harper, the president and chief executive of Del Mar, on Saturday said Del Mar would move its two grass races Sunday to the main Polytrack course.

Harper said he thought this was the prudent move with the turf course “because of the breakdowns on it.”

Two horses died in separate incidents on Saturday on the turf. One more was euthanized after a grass race on Friday. In addition, a horse was euthanized after being severely injured on the main track on Friday.

So, in the past 48 hours, four horses have perished in races here. There have been four deaths on the turf in races this season, including one opening day. The meet is eight days old.

Harper said the turf course, which was new this year and has yielded quick times, would be aerated on Monday, and that the inner turf rail would be moved out to 18 feet.

Harper came to the press box between the ninth and 10th races on Saturday to address media members. He said members of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, California Thoroughbred Trainers, and local jockeys were all consulted. He said the jockeys have been positive about the course. “They say it is fast, but it has bounce to it,” Harper said.

Jockey Drayden Van Dyke hit the course hard on Saturday when his mount in the fifth race, Lil Swiss Echo, suffered a gruesome breakdown to a foreleg that necessitated her being euthanized on the course just yards before the finish.

Van Dyke was taken to Scripps La Jolla Hospital to be evaluated. His agent, Sarah Wolfe, said late Saturday that he checked out fine. He was expected to ride Sunday.

Later Saturday, J Kat suffered a fatal injury in the ninth race, but jockey Corey Nakatani prevented him from falling.

On Friday, Yes She’s Unusual suffered a catastrophic injury in a turf sprint, a race in which four of the 10 runners failed to finish. Brice Blanc, aboard Yes She’s Unusual, took off his mounts Saturday and Sunday after hitting the ground hard when dislodged from Yes She’s Unusual.

Van Dyke fell in that race, too – his mount impacted by Yes She’s Unusual – but he continued to ride on Friday and on Saturday until the incident with Lil Swiss Echo.

In Friday’s featured Cougar II Handicap, on Polytrack, Longview Drive severely injured sesamoids in a front leg and had to be euthanized.

The four racing-related deaths on Friday and Saturday came on the heels of the fatal injuries suffered by Blue Grass winner Dance With Fate during a training accident on Thursday that was not related to the racing surface.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen

Ian GW More than 1 year ago
I've noticed a big drop in the entries. Do they think it's the filed sizes? Gulfstream runs big fields everyday so that theory is gone. Seems to me its animals that shouldn't be running. Lil Swiss Echo did not want to race. It took four people after some time to physically push her in the gate. Should of been scratched and you got one less death. Nobody likes to see this happening. I love the game and wish racing would get United and work together. Gov may need to step in soon.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
a covalence of bad factors have led to this sorry state of affairs.first sore horses are medicated beyond reason and made to race when they should be rested and healed. 2nd tracks are neglecting the racing surfaces or purposely making them fast..i know watering and maintaining a grass course is expensive but if you want turf racing it has to be done and you cant cut corners. In the end it comes back to the out of whack economics that racetracks are dealing with there is no money for state of the art testing. no money to properly maintain the surfaces.no money for an owner to make a profit unless he has a stakes winner. Too many tracks chasing too few horses and racing secretaries begging for trainers to fill races with unsound horses. The only way to fix this is to have a national regulator who will work hard to change the tax laws that double tax bettors and eat into revenue at tracks.work to make uniform anti doping laws and have a national accredited lab with some real testing protocols from collection to lab.set up a national licensing process that regulates who can get licenses encompassing race tracks tracks jockeys trainers breeders sales agents etc. FORRCE casino revenue at tracks to revert back to racing.75% of all profits after taxes should be for increased purses,testing,horse retirement and welfare funds,facility upgrades,breeders incentives.racinos and casinos should be operated by companies as caretakers not owners of the operations and profits. racing dates should be curtailed most tracks should operate on a 3 or 4 day weekly schedule and there should be no more than 2 tracks per state.
Dick Brasher More than 1 year ago
Most of you have ideas that are way out of line.The problem is,the trainers that run the horses that are sore,and should not be running.But the GREED gets involved,and greedy owners also,who want to run at DM for big purses.I have heard that the first one who broke on opening day,had beenn known for having a problem way before the race came to be.Also,Swiss echo had problems too,and nakatani worked him,and told them he was not right.So the trainers just dope them up,and run them,and this is what you get.....Sad,but true.Don`t blame the turf course,blame the trainer who sends out a sore horse.
Richard Cadena More than 1 year ago
Polytrack is not the problem. If it is, it is maybe because Del Mar let it go, since they made a deal to get rid of the synthetic track and convert to dirt; they did that in order to be rewarded with hosting the Breeders Cup races soon, just like Keenland sold out to the dirt-favoring luddites, who most likely run the show. The current problem at Del Mar appears to be the turf, where most of the deaths and injuries have occurred. But it leads to a larger point. If they can’t get the turf right, will these same problems happen when they go from synthetic to dirt. For those that need to see statistics and surveys, the synthetic track surfaces are safer with respect to injuries, etc., than the dirt tracks. That means if they ever convert back to dirt most likely the injuries will be greater than they were on the current synthetic. Bottom line: maybe Del Mar right now is not ready for prime time, and should rethink going from synthetic back to dirt, as well.
KWGRID More than 1 year ago
Latest count, 5 put down in just the last few days due to injuries. :(
flash gordon More than 1 year ago
I thought poly was safe. bring back the dirt.
Bugsy Anderson More than 1 year ago
The stats show this happens less on poly.
martymar . More than 1 year ago
it would work wonders if you had reading comprehension.
ken n More than 1 year ago
Sad that delmar is a death trap.
John More than 1 year ago
This is just a very bad run of luck on the horses . Unfortunatly we have periods like this at every track, I dont think the turf course trouble or the breakdowns are going to continue. Its just bad timing at the start of a popular meeting ! Lets just move on and stop blaming people, we know this game can be brutal at times, but it can also be the best fun and entertainment , dollar for dollar !
Gaye Goodwin More than 1 year ago
Oh, please! Stop with the excuse making , "that's just the way thing are" BS already
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
No sir. Management F*cked up and now for their horrible installation of their turf course a total of 8 horses have died in a matter of a few days. So blame is squarely pointed at the management of Del Mar.
jon g More than 1 year ago
Another filly went down. 5th since Friday. SHUT IT DOWN!
Jorkel More than 1 year ago
Hey Harper, you ran Delmar into the ground. Bunch of lousy races, lousy food, lousy race surface and the ambiance is gone. great job !