Updated on 08/17/2016 10:10PM

Del Mar cuts purses for overnight races by 5 percent


DEL MAR, Calif. – Purses for overnight races at Del Mar will be reduced by approximately 5 percent for the final two weeks of the summer meeting after lower-than-expected business in recent weeks.

Tom Robbins, Del Mar’s director of racing, said on Saturday that the reduction will take place in allowance, claiming, and maiden races. The stakes program will not be affected.

This is essentially the second purse cut of the year at Del Mar. Before the meeting began on July 15, overnight purses were cut approximately 10 percent from the 2015 summer-meeting levels because of lower handle in the last year.

The purse account had a deficit of more than $1 million before the start of the current meeting, a figure that has not been reduced, Robbins said.

“It’s still up there,” Robbins said. “We’re trying to manage this and bring things in line as we finish the meeting.”

Handle figures have failed to keep pace with the 2015 meeting. Through Sunday, all-sources handle, including satellite and account-wagering sources, was down 4 percent.

The summer meeting runs through Sept. 5. The lower purses will go into effect with racing on Aug. 24 and cover the final 11 days of the 39-day meeting.

Robbins said purse reductions will range from 4 percent to 5.5 percent for various categories of races.

“Some things are rounded,” he said.

As an example, he said maiden special weight races will be reduced from $63,000 to $60,000.

Robbins said a drop in field size has affected handle. Larger fields are more attractive to gamblers, offering more opportunities in a variety of wagers.

Through Sunday, the 23rd day of the meeting, fields had averaged 8.13 runners per race compared with 8.73 runners per race during a similar period at the 2015 summer meeting. The entire 2015 summer meeting averaged 8.79 runners per race, which equaled the track’s highest figure this century.

Robbins cited illness that affected some stables as one of the causes for lower field sizes this summer.

At the same time, there is widespread hope among track officials that this Saturday’s program, which includes the $1 million Pacific Classic, will draw strong business.

The Pacific Classic field is led by California Chrome, the 2014 Horse of the Year, and Beholder, the three-time champion mare who won the 2015 Pacific Classic.

 “Hopefully, we can have a strong Saturday,” Robbins said.

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william 6 months ago
raise takeout to 50% 
racetrackandy 6 months ago

And to this day there are people in denial about what is happening and who helped cause this.

As Horseplayers we’ve offered California Racing more solutions than all other jurisdictions combined. And not just offered solutions offers to help promote California Racing.

If we go by the California PP’s someone will suggest a Focus Group, a Marketing Study, and a re-opening of the all-powerful Pari-mutuel Committee………because that’s worked so well in the past.

We never quit,



Quote From The Official CHRB News Release Summary 9-23-2010 CHRB Meeting:

Midway through the meeting, Chairman Brackpool received a text message from the Office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger indicating that the governor had signed two bills - SB 1072 and AB 2414 - that the Board and industry supported as a means to substantially increase purses and potentially provide a new wagering option for bettors subject to agreement by the major racing interests and a sunset provision.

"This legislation adjusts the takeout on exotic wagers making it comparable with other major racing states and providing for purse increases of as much as 20 to 30 percent in California," explained the chairman. "I think this is the biggest possible boost we could do for the sport right now - getting the purses levels up, particularly in the lower races."

Players attending the 9-23-2010 CHRB Meeting reported that horsemen and track management attending the meeting gave Brackpool a standing ovation after he made that announcement.

CHRB Commissioner David Israel:
Quote 2010:
“People often say we are competing with the casinos. I think that’s shortsighted and wrong. We’re not competing with casinos. We’re in the entertainment business. We’re competing with the Dodgers and the Giants and the Angels and the Lakers and we’re putting on a show..."

CHRB Commissioner Keith Brackpool:
Quote 2010:
"We offer in California the premier racing product on a year-round basis,” he said, “but we were offering our first-class product at a discount price. We’re changing the pricing model. We left win-place-show where it is. But we came up with a solution that will produce $30 million more a year. That’s a 25-to-30% increase in overnight purses."


When pressed on the issue by horseplayer Andy Asaro, Pegram said the takeout would not be lowered. "I'm not willing to take an 18 percent cut," Pegram said. 
"This was about increasing purses and becoming competitive in California with other jurisdictions," Pegram said.


“To be quite honest, it was about increasing purses,” Pegram said. “It was about California becoming competitive with other jurisdictions.”

“We’re talking about a program that may take three to five years,” Owens said. “We’re in this for the somewhat longer haul. It’s not something that’s going to turn around in the very short term. We’re going to have to be patient.”

Brackpool, a former chairman of the CHRB, indicated different races will be shown on each network. With the exception of California racing, TVG doesn't currently offer live broadcasts of races from tracks owned by The Stronach Group or Churchill Downs Inc.

“In Europe, everybody goes to the races,” said Brackpool, a native of the United Kingdom. “But here, so many people have just not gone to a horse race. It’s staggering. What we’ve got to do is improve the experience. We’ve got to get our live audience back.”

“Five, six years ago, the industry was in complete denial,” he said. “Structural change was needed. Last year was the first time people came up to me and said, ‘This thing is broken’—which is good. People realize now change is needed.”

He believes a new law signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger may help kick start racing’s reinvention. The bill, which goes into effect Jan. 1, increases takeout on exotic wagers and clears the way for exchange wagering, or head-to-head betting, in 2012 after CHRB creates rules to regulate that form of betting.

Paul Eliot Hughes 6 months ago
I guess we should run our horses at saratoga
Paul 6 months ago
What does it say about socal economy......hollywood gone purses cut...taxes raised.........bad news
genewashington1 6 months ago
The fall meet killed the novelty of the summer meet. California is great at killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.