07/12/2012 12:27PM

Del Mar's 75th: Top 10 most memorable moments

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Bill Shoemaker shakes hands with John Longden after riding his 6,033rd winner Sept. 7, 1970, to break Longden’s career record.

10. Man runs onto track (1995)

On Aug. 10, 1995, Russell Howard Caputo, a distraught 38-year-old man, was taken into custody and sent to a county mental health facility after he jumped the outer grandstand fence, ran on to the track and threw a duffel bag in the middle of a stretch run of a race.

9. Espinoza’s seven-win day (2006)

Riding mostly short-priced horses − the average win payoff for a $2 bet was $5.30 − Victor Espinoza became the first jockey to win more than six races on a Del Mar card when he clicked with seven of 10 mounts on Labor Day, 2006.

8. Pincay gets win No. 8,000 (1993)

Laffit Pincay won his 8,000th career race Aug. 29, 1993, but because of a bookkeeping error − a win in Mexico that hadn’t been logged − wasn’t honored until the next day.

7. Frankel wins four straight Pacific Classics (1992-95)

The late Bobby Frankel won the Pacific Classic six times, including four in a row with horses not favored: Missionary Ridge (24-1) in 1992, Bertrando (3-1) in 1993, and Tinners Way (7-1 and 5-2) in 1994-95.

6. Longden becomes winningest rider (1956)

Ten years before he retired, John Longden surpassed England’s Sir Gordon Richards as the world’s winningest rider by winning the Del Mar Handicap with Arrogate on Labor Day, 1956, for his 4,871st win.

5. Shoemaker one-ups Longden (1970)

On his way to 8,833 wins, Bill Shoemaker passed the retired John Longden as the winningest rider when on Sept. 7, 1970, with Longden cheering him on, Dares J gave him his 6,033rd win.

4. Del Mar Thoroughbred Club granted lease (1970)

The not-for-profit Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, which still conducts racing as a tenant of state-owned Del Mar, got its start in 1970 when Gov. Ronald Reagan, hoping to give a slumping track a boost, granted a lease to the  group headed by Clement Hirsch and John Mabee.

3. Shoemaker wins 94 in ’54 (1954)

Bill Shoemaker, riding 36 of the 41 days, won a record 94 races in 1954, 42 of them for the trainer Red McDaniel.

2. Cigar upset by Dare and Go (1996)

Cigar had won 16 in a row, matching Citation, but in the 1996 Pacific Classic, Dare and Go, ridden by Alex Solis and trained by Richard Mandella, beat him by 3 1/2 lengths in an upset that shocked a crowd of 44,181.

1. Seabiscuit vs. Ligaroti (1938)

Lin Howard, co-owner of Ligaroti with Bing Crosby, thought their horse could beat his father’s Seabiscuit, but in the 1938 match race it was Charlie Howard’s horse by a nose after a slam-bang finish that led to the suspension of both jockeys, George Woolf on Seabiscuit and Spec Richardson on Ligaroti.

Thomas More than 1 year ago
some of my favorite memories of racing come from Del Mar, from riding the Coaster's "Gambler's Special" from L.A."s Union Station to the track, to the double decker bus that picks you up, to the parties on the infield. My long gone father used to love it too, so later when I lived in the South Bay I'd met him there. Also scored my biggest hit there in 2004.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
The 1991 Pacific Classic was another memorable moment. Not only was it the first running of what became the track's signature race, but Mr. Mabee's horse, Best Pal, won one for the home team. That's movie stuff. Best Pal, as a retired horse, led the field out for that historic 96' Pacific Classic. I was sad to see that when I visited Del Mar last year they had changed the name of the grandstand-side bar; for about a decade it had been the Best Pal Pub.
David Leach More than 1 year ago
The highlight of my Horse Racing "career" was when one of my best friends Jerry K took me to Del Mar during the 2008 meet. What a difference from the Detroit area tracks. I can now die and go to Horse Bettors Heaven. Going there was one of the reasons I started following the California Bred horses,etc. Did pretty good this year with I'll Have Another,heh.