Mac McBride | Director of Media, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
Del Mar’s 2013 season – the 74th summer run at the scenic seaside oval since it all started with Bing Crosby and his Hollywood pals back in 1937 – was a flat-out winner on all fronts. Lots of fans came to watch the Thoroughbreds do their thing, they brought their gambling money and weren’t afraid to break it out, and the fun, sun and party atmosphere were in full gallop from the July 17 Opening Day until the curtain fell on September 4.
A total of 653,259 racetrackers found their way through the gates over the course of the 37-day season, meaning a daily average attendance of 17,656 – second best among all racing outlets in America. At the wagering wickets, the “handle” ( the sum of all monies bet ) proved robust with a daily average of more than $13-million a day that finally approached a half-billion dollars total when all was said and done.
Though nationally most racing venues struggle with the economics of the business, Del Mar manages to keep things on the “up.” Even field-size-per-race, a key yardstick of product and betting health, goes against the countrywide trend and has risen at the shore oval for three straight years now, aided by the “Ship and Win” program that provides economic incentives to owners to bring out-of-state horses to run at Del Mar.
“We have a great crew that runs this race meet, we have our outstanding California horsemen, and we have our enthusiastic Del Mar fans,” said Del Mar Thoroughbred Club president Joe Harper. “When you put them all together at a place like Del Mar, you’ve got a great shot to have a real big winner.”
With 2013 in the books, racing fans can look ahead to next year for more of the same – and then some.
Not only is Del Mar scheduled to run its traditional summer meet from July 16 to September 3, but – because of the impending closure of Los Angeles’ Hollywood Park – more racing dates are likely headed Del Mar’s way starting in 2014.
Though it is a situation in flux, it appears quite likely that the California Horse Racing Board will add somewhere between four to five weeks of additional racing to Del Mar’s schedule, likely covering the month of November and possibly into December. It will be a modified version of the track’s usual summer stand – four days a week instead of five ( Thursday through Sunday ), a noon or 12:30 start to racing instead of 2 p.m., with additional tweaks to come – but it still will be the same high-class racing, with many of the same fired-up fans at the good old locale “where the turf meets the surf.” And that’s all but sure to be a winner right from the start.