08/21/2013 3:00PM

Del Mar Derby could be split into divisions

Shigeki Kikkawa
Kid Dreams could run in the Del Mar Derby on two weeks' rest.

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DEL MAR, Calif. – Del Mar officials are considering dividing the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 1, provided the race receives sufficient entries and that business continues to show improvement over last year.

Director of racing Tom Robbins said Wednesday that the 1 1/8-mile Del Mar Derby would need at least 16 intended runners to be divided. Ten can start in each race.

Robbins said he believes the Del Mar Derby will have more than 10 entrants. Instead of denying several horses the opportunity to run in a race that has been a target for several weeks or months, the race could be divided.

“We haven’t ruled it out, but we don’t know yet,” Robbins said. “We’re communicating with all the necessary people.”

It is unclear whether a divided Del Mar Derby would have two $300,000 divisions, the current listed purse. If divided, the races must be worth at least $225,000 each, or a total of 150 percent of the original advertised purse, to retain graded status, Robbins said.

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Nominations for the Del Mar Derby were due Thursday and will be published Friday. Entries will be taken Thursday, Aug. 29.

Strong business at the meeting would provide the necessary additional purse money to divide the race. Through Sunday, Del Mar has shown a gain of 9.4 percent in all-sources handle and a gain of 7.9 percent in ontrack handle, the track announced. The strong handle is likely to result in a retroactive purse increase to owners who started horses at the meeting, which began July 17 and runs through Sept. 4.

Robbins said that discussions on dividing the Del Mar Derby will be held next week between track officials and the Thoroughbred Owners of California, which must approve changes to the purse agreements with racetracks.

Stakes races at Del Mar are rarely divided. One exception is the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf here each July. The race was divided from 1989 to 2008 as well as in 2012 and this year. In 2007, there were three divisions.

Kid Dreams in derby picture

Among those who could run in the Del Mar Derby is Kid Dreams. Trainer Neil Drysdale was so impressed with the victory by Kid Dreams against older horses in a loaded first-level allowance race on Sunday that he is thinking of bringing him back on just two weeks’ rest for the race.

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Kid Dreams unleashed a strong rally under jockey Gary Stevens to score a 1 1/4-length victory in 1:33.32 for one mile on turf. The Del Mar Derby is at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

“Gary said he didn’t have a hard race,” Drysdale said. “We’ll definitely take a look at the derby.”

– additional reporting by Jay Privman