08/09/2014 8:47PM

Improved conditions as turf racing resumes


DEL MAR, Calif. – Turf racing resumed at Del Mar for the first time in nine days Saturday, with three races run on the course without incident. The drama on the surface was limited to close finishes and an exciting rally by Enterprising in the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap.

In the first week of August, the turf course was extensively aerated and watered in an effort to make the surface kinder. Four horses were euthanized as a result of injuries suffered in turf races from July 17 through July 26. Turf racing was cancelled July 27 for a brief period of maintenance.

Turf racing resumed without incident July 30 but was suspended after racing July 31, when the filly Serious suffered a sesamoid injury in a turf sprint that day. In the first week of August, the turf course underwent a more extensive maintenance program than the previous week. The course may have been helped by two rainstorms July 27 and Aug. 2 that produced approximately two-thirds of an inch of rain.

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On Saturday, three races were run at a mile to 1 1/16 miles with 22 horses running safely in those races. Jockeys were universal in their praise for the course, although some said they liked it before the interruption.

“I thought it felt good [then],” said jockey Joe Talamo of late July conditions. “Horses are coming from off of it and winning close by. It’s got a good cushion.”

Apprentice jockey Drayden Van Dyke said the course Saturday felt “the same to me all around. I’m sure it’s better with the rain and the things they did to take care of it.”

Jockey Martin Garcia rode Schoolofhardrocks to a fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 La Jolla Handicap for 3-year-olds on turf. Garcia said the condition of the course has improved.

“It’s better than before,” Garcia said. “It’s longer, and the horses have cushion.”

Beginning Saturday through the end of the meeting Sept. 3, turf racing will be restricted to stakes, maiden special-weight races, and optional claimers at a mile or farther. Sprints or races for claimers or starter-allowance class horses will not be offered.

Sunday’s nine-race program includes two turf races, highlighted by the $250,000 John Mabee Stakes for fillies and mares over 1 1/8 miles.

As turf racing resumed Saturday, Serious continues to recover. She is recuperating at Los Alamitos and could be bred in 2015, according to trainer Vince Smith.

John Murray More than 1 year ago
If the watering, aeration and longer grass is sustainable for the health of jockeys and horses, all the better but that should have been carried out before racing started. Del Mar has hurt the industry hard and will never live this down, sorry doesn't cut it. Let's hope that Santa Anita's new dirt track is a much safer install project. At least artificial surfaces, with varying maintenance issues, were proven safer, and the industry is no longer all about the "horse".
Hail No More than 1 year ago
I can't believe they're phasing out the synths at all the major tracks, was it just a show that they tried to do what was best for the horses? I thought Keen synth was great, and capping brought some great prices, as well as dirt does, too, but no major track without any synth, poly or whatever they want to call it, seems like mot enough of a baseline to really make a conclusive determination, one way or the other..More than a coincidence that DM and Keen are now going back to dirt, and abra cadabra, they are in line for the BCup..
Magikal Rhine River More than 1 year ago
Noticed the final times of the grass races Saturday were in the final time of 1;35 range, which is far more reasonable than the ridiculous super fast races in the 1;32-1:33 range we saw when the horses were breaking down so much. Do not believe that any lightning fast billiard table turf course with little or no cushion is safe.
Bob More than 1 year ago
So what, they ran three turf races without any horses ending up DEAD and now everything is fine? Get back to me when they have run a hundred turf races and we'll see if the turf course is "improved."
Steve Wilson More than 1 year ago
TVG was laughable yesterday, Bob. After each turf race phrases like "everyone finished fine", and "no incidents during this race" were being bandied about, as though they were expecting trouble. Sad situation, but glad there weren't any problems.
mike More than 1 year ago
Bob,you're exactly on the money.
BWscouting More than 1 year ago
Melodrama - 'a sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events intended to appeal to the emotions.'
Shawn Britton More than 1 year ago
Bottom line lets have a great finish. Best place to enjoy a city and weather. Great area and good racing. Saratoga and Delmar best time of the racing year
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
I'll take Hallendale and the Miami/South Beach Area instead.
jon g More than 1 year ago
Not running claiming races or sprints may mean that sprinters and/or claimers will run in Alw races they don't belong in. If you can't run claimers,why run anything ?
Stephen Mercier More than 1 year ago
tumbleweed connections...
Walter More than 1 year ago
Visually, it looked like a big improvement. You could actually see the horses getting traction and their hooves could dig in the grass. Grow grass grow!!
Hail No More than 1 year ago
You could really see a discernable effect with the horses getting over the course....