08/08/2002 12:00AM

Purses rise 5 percent after strong start


DEL MAR, Calif. - Reacting to strong business through the first two weeks of the meeting, Del Mar has raised overnight purses 5 percent, retroactive to the start of the meeting on July 24.

Strong ontrack business and the first year of advance deposit wagering, which allows betting through the telephone and internet, led to the purse increase.

Craig Fravel, Del Mar's executive vice-president, said the presence of seven days of racing after Labor Day prevented the track from going with a higher purse increase.

"We could have gone higher based on our projections, but historically, the end of the meeting after Labor Day, business tends to slow," Fravel said.

Through Monday, the 12th day of the meeting, the average overall handle was $11,874,497, a gain of 11.4 percent. The ontrack handle was $2,526,365, a gain of 12.3 percent.

According to a track statement, handle from advance deposit wagering was approximately $600,000 per day through Monday, adding $20,000 daily to purses.

"That's gravy on top of what would otherwise be a nice meeting," Fravel said. He said there is no indication that deposit wagering is drawing customers away from the racetrack.

"We haven't seen it, but those are hard things to judge," he said. "If it was just a matter of moving money around you would expect to have an intuitive feel of where the money is coming from. Our offtrack business is relatively level and our ontrack business is strong."

The increase will lead to lucrative purses in some divisions. On Sunday, for example, an allowance race/ optional claimer over a mile on turf has been raised $3,000, to $64,000.

Owner may be disciplined

An owner who used his license to gain backstretch access to sell an herbal feed supplement that resulted in positive tests for six horses last summer faces possible sanctions from track stewards for not having a vendor's license.

Greg Long, of Manhattan Beach, appeared before track stewards at a three-hour hearing on Thursday. Long admitted to not having a vendor's license but stated that he intended to begin the process of getting one when the rash of positives occurred.

Long sold a product called Herbal Advantage to trainers. Although an initial batch of more than 2,000 pounds of Herbal Advantage sold in early 2001 did not result in a positive, a second batch resulted in six positive tests at Hollywood Park and Del Mar.

The horses tested positive for phenylpropanolamine and norpseudoephedrine, which are banned amphetamines. Long said he relied on the manufacturing lab in the Los Angeles area to ensure the integrity of the product and did not have the feed supplement tested by an outside lab.

Six trainers were fined $1,500 each for the positive tests and $89,000 in purses were redistributed. Long did not have any horses in training in 2001 when he was selling Herbal Advantage. In 1996, he was part of the partnership that owned by King of the Heap, the winner of the Malibu Stakes.

The stewards are expected to reach a decision over the weekend.

Dance Dreamer comes on late

A come-from-behind victory by Dance Dreamer in Wednesday's $78,650 Escondido Handicap left jockey Kent Desormeaux thinking that the colt's future lies in turf marathons.

Held up at the back of the five-horse field to the final turn, Dance Dreamer launched a wide rally that carried him to the front in the final 100 yards. A 4-year-old, Dance Dreamer ran 1 3/8 miles on turf in 2:12.86, winning his stakes debut.

"As soon as I swung him out, I started eating them up," Desormeaux said. "He just took off."

Homeland, a stakes winner in France last year, ran his best race in five U.S. starts, setting the pace and losing by only 1 1/4 lengths. Little Ghazi finished third, followed by Tapatio and Slew the Red.

The last-place finish by Slew the Red was a disappointment. A three-time stakes winner in France last year, Slew the Red has yet to finish in the first three in six stakes in North America in the last year.

Desormeaux said the wide rally helped to avoid trouble they could have encountered with a ground-saving trip on the final turn.

"I'd rather take the freeway than road with all the lights," Desormeaux said.

Dance Dreamer was favored on the strength of his two wins in allowance races at Hollywood Park and the scratch of the Frankel-trained Lord Flasheart, who was reported to track officials as being sick.

Trained by Bobby Frankel for Juddmonte Farms, Dance Dreamer has not been worse than second in four starts since arriving from France last winter, all with Desormeaux aboard.

The restricted Escondido, for nonwinners of a first-place purse of $60,000 at a mile or over this year, was Dance Dreamer's longest race in the United States. In France, he won his first race against winners over about 1 1/4 miles.

"He was by himself and very comfortable," Desormeaux said. "I was trying to get a perfect spot.

"I thought this was an easier race for him. Maybe that's indicative of the distance."

Pincay hits 9,400

Jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr. won the 9,400th race of his career aboard Bluesthestandard in Wednesday's sixth race. Pincay, the world's all-time leading rider, said he had lost count of who close he was to the milestone.

"When they announced it, I said, 'Oh, yeah. I forgot,' " he said. "I really don't keep count of it."

Pincay has won 990 races at Del Mar, leading the track's all-time list. His goal is 1,000 winners by the end of the meeting.