Dreaming of Del Mar Racetrack: Everyone into the Giant Pools
A viewpoint into one of America’s most celebrated racetracks, located at Del Mar’s acclaimed Thoroughbred Club.
Updated: Aug. 23, 2018 • 7:10 PM ET
Del Mar racetrack has run horses since the 1930s.
Google Maps continues to be endlessly fascinating. Interested in viewing Kim Jong-un’s personal water slide in North Korea? Poof, there it is. What about your old street where you used to ride your bike? Click, memory lane. Or, how about that auspicious spot on the streets of London where your college girlfriend told you she was cheating on you with a friend of yours and seemed to ruin your whole existence? Just hypotheticals, of course. The important point, though, is that the maps have their uses.
I was perusing the location of one of my favorite racetracks the other day and discovered a snapshot that is telling. Key in “Del Mar Racetrack,” click the satellite version and have a gander. The Thoroughbred Club underwent a major renovation before they hosted the Breeder’s Cup in November 2017 (they just learned that they will host it again in 2021).
The overhead of the track looks like a kid’s giant dirt pile, complete with Tonkas. Yet, flash forward to 2018, and the new turf has settled and blossomed. The handle (the amount the track takes in) is up significantly, and the summer meeting has two weeks left. My point? You need to check out what Del Mar has to offer.
Del Mar Racetrack near San Diego, Calif. is a dream spot — 72 degrees, give or take. Since investors like Bing Crosby opened the place in 1937, it has become known as the place “Where the Turf Meets the Surf,” where sunshine and horses commingle. By first post at 2 p.m. PST Tuesday through Sunday, darkness has begun to fall on the other coast. But there are really three reasons you need to watch Del Mar, and all of them are essential when enjoying great racing.
First, Del Mar is experiencing a banner year, and that’s in part to banner weather. After scalping their turf course, some horses were injured due to footing, and it soured many of the patrons. This year, however, appears to be an absolute turnabout. While Del Mar runs from late July through Labor Day, the venerable Saratoga also has its meet. This year, the East Coast has been socked with rain, and nothing dampens horse racing wagering like poor conditions. Del Mar has thrived by benefitting from the great weather.
Horse racing is based, unlike at casinos, on pari-mutuel wagering. When you place your money on a horse to win, place (second), show (third), or any other kinds of what are called exotic wagers that exist, envision a giant pool where your cash is held. At the end of each race, the odds determine your payout. To increase your chances, it always helps to have loads of people involved. Thus, Del Mar has seen fabulous pools. In fact, last Saturday on TVG Pacific Classic Day, they set a record when their handle reached almost $26 million. Taking advantage of these conditions assists with juicy payouts and happy railbirds.
Unless you’re into Seabiscuit-style match races, the size of a race field is essential. Good tracks with plenty of good horses is always appreciated. Since the financial crisis of 2008, horse breeding is down. Less expendable income means reductions in ownership’s ability to invest in the next “would be” Triple Crown winner. Despite this downturn, Del Mar has horses in spades and owners willing to ship them in to go after those tasty purses. The average field size is boasting 8.8; that is stupendous. In a world where some tracks can barely reach 6, these numbers are one of the reasons that Del Mar is enjoying so much success.
If you can’t travel to Del Mar over the next two weeks to eat a Turkado at one of my favorite places, The Board & Brew, take heart! All the action is available through an innovation that horse racing inaugurated with the advent of television — the simulcast (watching/wagering on racing that is live). If you register for a free account at twinspires.com, you can watch all the racing you can stand; and you don’t have to wager, including at Del Mar.
Want solid fields, great pools and excellent weather? Time for a cannonball! Everyone into the pool!
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