03/30/2007 12:00AM

Synthetic era begins with $7.25M in stakes


Del Mar will offer the richest stakes schedule in its history this summer, 30 races worth $7.25 million, seven of which are Grade 1 stakes. The meeting runs from July 18 to Sept. 5.

The 2007 Del Mar meeting will be the first run on a synthetic surface.

The stakes program is worth $100,000 more than in 2006, with the increases spread over three races. The Grade 2 Palomar Breeders' Cup Handicap for fillies and mares on turf will be worth $250,000, an increase of $50,000 over 2006. The Torrey Pines Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and the El Cajon Stakes for 3-year-olds have been increased $25,000 each, to $125,000.

The most lucrative day of the meet is Aug. 19, highlighted by the $1 million Pacific Classic and two other major stakes - the $400,000 Del Mar BC Mile and the $300,000 Pat O'Brien BC Handicap. The winner of each of those stakes qualifies for a berth in a Breeders' Cup race.

In a shift of racing dates, the $400,000 John Mabee Handicap for fillies and mares on turf has been moved from the first weekend of the meeting to Aug. 4.