08/04/2017 2:26PM

Del Mar introduces tiered purse structure for Cal-bred optional claimers

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DEL MAR, Calif. – Del Mar has enacted a two-tiered purse structure for California-bred optional-claiming races at its summer meeting, with allowance-class horses running for much greater prize money than claimers.

The new format will be used for Sunday’s first race, an optional claimer at one mile that drew a field of five. Que Chistoso, Senator Robert, and Plain Wrap are entered under the allowance race conditions and will run for a purse of $62,000. Old Man Lake and Freddies Dream are entered for $20,000 claiming prices and will run for a $35,000 purse.

The race is a first-condition optional claimer for horses who have not won a first-place purse of $10,000 other than maiden, claiming or starter, or have never won two races, or are eligible to be claimed for $20,000.

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Freddies Dream won a similar race at Santa Anita on July 1 when eligible to be claimed for $16,000. Rockingham Ranch, which owns the 6-year-old gelding, earned $33,600 of the $57,035 purse that day.

On Sunday, Freddies Dream would earn $21,000 from a $35,000 purse with a win. The horses entered under the allowance race conditions would earn $37,200 from a $62,000 purse with a win.

Del Mar vice president of racing Tom Robbins said the new structure was designed “in an effort to control our purses.”

The track has overpaid purses in recent years, leading to a purse reduction last summer. The track is still carrying a deficit but is expected to offer uniform purses through the summer meeting, which ends on Sept. 4, Robbins said.

Robbins said he has received “a little bit” of criticism for the two-tiered purse structure.

“We have to balance our purses and make sure we’re not overpaying,” he said.

Robbins was quick to mention two other incentives for California-breds – a $17,500 bonus paid to owners of horses who win maiden special weight races, and the $60,000 purse level for maiden special weight races for California-breds this summer, equal to similar races for open-company runners.