Del Mar Once Again Shifting Races Off Turf

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club (DMTC) announced it will be moving its turf races to the main track through the upcoming weekend after another breakdown on the newly installed course July 31.

Serious, a 35-1 shot in the seventh race—an allowance/optional claiming dash at five furlongs—broke down on the turn and was removed from the course by van with serious injuries. There was no immediate word on the condition of the 4-year-old filly trained by Vince Smith.

It was the fifth breakdown on the course, which was expanded during the offseason to accommodate larger fields, since the meet opened July 17. The earlier breakdowns, which all resulted in the horses being euthanized, led Del Mar to shift its races off the turf course July 27 for maintenance. The course was aerated and given extra water, and the temporary rail was shifted to 18 feet out to make use of fresh sod.

Del Mar installed a new turf course for the 2014 season, widening it to 80 feet and installing all new grass: a hybrid Bermuda strain invented by golfer Greg Norman.

One horse broke down July 17 on the course and three more suffered catastrophic injuries July 25-26. Four races were conducted on the course July 30 and earlier July 31 without incident. Five races will be affected by the cancellation of turf racing this weekend.

In a statement Thursday, DMTC said it "feels deep sorrow and great concern following a further injury on our turf course."

"We continue to be of the belief that Del Mar's turf course is safe for our horses and riders," the statement continued. "Our crews have performed extensive maintenance measures to enhance that safety and those measures—and the course itself—met with the approval of safety officials from the California Horse Racing Board this past Tuesday (July 29).

"Nonetheless, given this additional injury on our turf course, we now will discontinue racing on it for the remained of this week. We will continue efforts to improve the course during this down time and hope to resume racing on it in the near future.

"Further, we also will continue our communication with all our partners in the racing community—the California Horse Racing Board, the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the California Thoroughbred Trainers and the Jockey Guild—in attempts to understand and solve this serious problem."

Originally published on

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Jack Shinar

Jack Shinar is a frequent contributor to The Blood-Horse magazine and is part of their Digital Media department.

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