05/08/2012 2:18PM

Del Mar's Ship and Win program boosts bonus

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Del Mar announced on Tuesday that the track will enhance a bonus program that pays owners who ship horses from outside of California to run at the track’s upcoming meeting, from July 18 to Sept. 5.

The program, known as Ship and Win, was launched last year and is designed to encourage owners to ship horses to race at Del Mar.

This year, a $1,000 appearance fee and a 25 percent bonus for purse money earned in the horse’s first local start will be paid to the owners of horses who ship from outside of California and start at Del Mar. The appearance fee will be paid to horses racing at any level, while the 25 percent bonus is restricted to overnight races.

Last year, the program awarded a $1,000 appearance fee and a 20 percent bonus.

Track officials said 107 horses qualified for some aspect of the bonus last year.

In some cases, California-based owners purchased horses from outside the state to take advantage of the bonuses. In 2011, the track offered higher overnight purses than in previous years, and purses are expected to increase further this year. The track has not announced purse levels for the upcoming meeting.

The bonuses and higher purses helped Del Mar increase field sizes in 2011 to 8.35 starters per race, compared to 8.18 starters per race in 2010.

The track plans to be the only major racetrack in Southern California to race five days a week. Betfair Hollywood Park and Santa Anita operate primarily on a four-day a week basis.