07/30/2014 8:15PM

Turf racing resumes Wednesday with no problems


DEL MAR, Calif. - Turf racing resumed at Del Mar without incident on Wednesday after three horses were euthanized from injuries suffered in turf races last Friday and Saturday.

From Saturday night into Monday, the course was aerated and watered extensively to make it softer. Turf races scheduled for Sunday were canceled. Del Mar widened the turf course before the meet began.

Wednesday’s eight-race program included three turf races - an optional claimer over 1 3/8 miles, a starter allowance over a mile, and a maiden race for 2-year-olds over a mile. There were 24 starters in those races, and all finished.

Thursday, track officials were considering reducing the number of races on the turf course through August, according to director of racing Tom Robbins. Last year, 94 of the 328 races at the meeting were on turf, or 29 percent. Through Wednesday, the 10th day of the 36-day meeting, 28 of the 94 races were on turf, or 30 percent.

The course was helped on Sunday morning when a half-inch of rain fell, a rare event in the region at this time of year.

Jockeys described conditions as more forgiving on Wednesday.

In Wednesday’s first race, Big John B ($3.80) closed from last of seven to win by 7 1/4 lengths in 2:12.84. The track record for the distance is 2:11.14 set in 2008.

Big John B was ridden by Mike Smith, who said the course had “good bounce.”

The 5-year-old gelding is trained by Phil D’Amato who said he had trepidations about the condition of the course going into Wednesday’s race. “I’d be lying if I said no,” he said. “All the jockeys are supportive of the course.”

In the first race, Jockey Martin Pedroza rode Thirtyfirststreet, who was fourth early and faded to finish sixth. “It’s a lot softer,” he said. “Whatever they did to it, worked. I noticed it right when we got on it for warmups.”

Jockey Corey Nakatani, who rode fourth-place finisher Tigah, said the course was “softer and it felt good."

"Hopefully," he said, "they can keep it that way.”

For Wednesday’s program, temporary turf rails were set 18 feet from the true position to give the runners fresh ground for racing.

Track president Joe Harper said Sunday’s rainstorm “certainly helped” conditions. “There is nothing more even than a good rain,” he said.

“It’s certainly different than it was when we opened,” Harper said of the course. “You’d like to keep it like it is now.”

In the other turf races, Number Five won the starter allowance over a mile in 1:34.39. In the sixth race, Dallas Skyline ($7.20) beat maidens over a mile in 1:36.04.

Trainer Jeff Mullins finished second in the sixth race with Papacoolpapacool. He thought Sunday’s rainstorm helped the course.

“The thing is no one broke down and that says a lot,” he said. “I think Mother Nature did more for it than anything.”