|I. Del Mar Facts||Read more|
|II. Breeders‘ Cup Lowdown||Read more|
|III. Important Stats for 2021||Read more|
|IV. Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar Preview||Read more|
I. Del Mar Facts
Del Mar is unique in that its facilities are owned by the State of California and controlled by the 22nd District Agricultural Association, operators of the Southern California Exposition, which annually attracts more than 1.5 million visitors from mid-June through the 4th of July holiday to what is commonly called the “Del Mar Fair.”
Since 1970, Del Mar racing has been operated by a corporation of prominent California owners, breeders and community leaders known as the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Its original—and continuing—mission was to conduct the sport for the sport’s gain and to channel profits back into the facility. Under a non-dividend-paying arrangement, its directors/stockholders do not receive any individual remuneration.
July 3, 1937—Del Mar opens its gates for the first time and Bing Crosby is there to greet a crowd of more than 15,000. Twenty-two days of racing are presented that first season “where the turf meets the surf.”
August 12, 1938—Seabiscuit, with „Iceman“ George Woolf aboard, outduels Ligaroti to win their historic $25,000 match race before 20,000 at the track and a nationwide radio audience. Sporting types note the race put Del Mar “on the map.”
September 3, 1956—On Labor Day, John Longden becomes the world’s winningest rider with victory No. 4,871 aboard Arrogate in the Del Mar Handicap. Longden surpasses the mark of Englishman Sir Gordon Richards.
September 7, 1970—On Labor Day, Bill Shoemaker displaces John Longden as the sport’s winningest rider, scoring astride Dares J for his 6,033 triumph.
Breeders Cup 2021
August 10, 1991—Golden Eagle Farm’s 3-year-old Best Pal, owned and bred by Mr. and Mrs. John C. Mabee, wins the inaugural running of the $1-million Pacific Classic.
July 28, 1993—On opening day, Del Mar unveils its completed $80-million grandstand, doubling its capacity in a state-of-the-art facility. The award-winning complex was completed one year ahead of schedule and under budget.
August 10, 1996—Two-time Horse of the Year Cigar comes to Del Mar for the sixth Pacific Classic and a chance to go past Citation and his modern-day record of 16 straight wins. But the track’s then largest crowd ever—44,181—witnesses a shocker instead of a crowning when 40-1 Dare And Go upsets the 1-10 favorite.
2007 – 2014 – As mandated by the State of California, Del Mar raced on a synthetic main track surface called Polytrack for eight seasons. It returned to natural dirt in 2015.
November 2014 – Del Mar conducts a 16-day fall race meeting, the start of a new dual-season racing cycle for the seaside oval. The meet proved highly successful at both the wickets and the turnstiles boding well for future sessions.
November 3-4, 2017 – Del Mar hosts its first Breeders’ Cup Championship, which proves a smashing success. New betting marks are established, the track draws rave reviews and the racing proves world class. B.C. folks schedule a return in 2021.
▲ Del Mar has been among the nation’s elite tracks in terms of daily average handle for more than two decades. In 2020 its daily average for its summer meet was $17,318,575, a number bested by only a few racetracks in the country.
▲ Del Mar also has been a national leader in terms of daily average attendance for more than two decades. In 2019 the on-track attendance per day was 11,264, totaling 405,504 fans during the 36-day summer season.
▲ At its 2020 summer session, Del Mar paid its horsemen a total of $18,411,696 in purses, a daily average of $681,915, the highest at a meet in California and near the very top among all tracks nationally.
▲ In 2020, the DMTC simulcast signal was sent to more than 1,000 locations nationwide and throughout the world from Canada to Peru, from Europe to South Africa. The signal added $245,481,287 to the track’s pari-mutuel pool.
▲ Since its inception in 1970, DMTC has paid approximately $905.4 million to the state, its agencies and municipalities and various charities, including:
•$444.4 million to the State of California •$355.3 million to the Del Mar Fairgrounds
•$25.8 million to California municipalities, including $10.2 million to the City of Del Mar
•$9.0 million to charity •$70.9 million to equine research and breeding
▲ The track’s employment during the summer race meet exceeds 5,150; its annual payroll is $33.1 million
▲ A three-year (2017- 2019) economic impact report by Sport Management Research Institute pegged Del Mar’s impact in the local community at $299.62 million with each racing visitor spending $2,335 on average
▲ North County hotels have an average occupancy of 69.8% on an annual basis, but in August — during the heart of the Del Mar summer meet — occupancy jumps to 86.7%, with many hotels exceeding 90%
II. Breeders‘ Cup Lowdown
The previous iteration in 2017 attracted 70,420 fans. This year, attendance at Del Mar will be capped at a lower level due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the Breeders’ Cup will still be a spectacular racing event for all fans watching on their devices around the world.
Final race order and pre-entries have all been announced now. Here’s what you need to know.
Friday 5th November
First post is at 11.55 PDT/ 2.55pm EDT / 6. 55pm GMT / 7.55pm CET. There is a 10-race card, with the final flagship race off at 5.30pm PDT / 8.30pm EDT / 12.40am GMT / 1.40am CET.
The final five races of the day’s schedule comprise day one of the Breeders‘ Cup races.
Race 6 – 2.50pm PDT / 5.50pm EDT / 9.50pm GMT / 10.50pm CET – Juvenile Turf Sprint
Race 7 – 3.30pm PDT / 6.30pm EDT / 10.30pm GMT / 11.30pm CET – Juvenile Fillies
Race 8 – 4.10pm PDT / 7.10pm EDT / 11.10 pm GMT / 12.10am CET – Juvenile Fillies Turf
Race 9 – 4.50pm PDT / 7.50pm EDT / 11.40pm GMT / 12.40am CET – Juvenile
Race 10 – 5.30pm PDT/ 8.30pm EDT / 12.30am GMT / 1.30am CET. – Juvenile Turf
Saturday 6th November
A 12-race schedule will begin at 10.15am, although the Breeders‘ Cup Championships will recommence at race 4, starting at 12.05pm PDT / 3.05pm EDT / 7.05pm GMT / 8.05pm CET, with the Filly & Mare Sprint
Further race times are as follows:
Race 5 – 12.40pm PDT / 3.40pm EDT / 7.40pm GMT / 8.40pm CET – Turf Sprint
Race 6 – 1.19pm PDT / 4.19pm EDT / 8.19pm GMT / 9.19pm CET – Dirt Mile
Race 7 – 1.59pm PDT/ 4.59pm EDT / 8.59pm GMT / 9.59pm CET – Filly & Mare Turf
Race 8 – 2.38pm PDT/ 5.38pm EDT / 9.38pm GMT / 10.38pm CET – Sprint
Race 9 – 3.20pm PDT / 6.20 EDT / 10.20pm GMT 11.20pm CET – Breeders‘ Cup Mile
Race 10 – 4pm PDT / 7pm EDT / 11pm GMT / midnight CET– Breeders‘ Cup Distaff
Race 11 – 4.40pm PDT / 7.40pm EDT / 11.40pm GMT / 12.40am CET– Breeders‘ Cup Turf
Race 12 – 5.40pm PDT / 8.40pm EDT / 12.40am GMT / 1.40am CET – Breeders‘ Cup Classic
III. Important Stats for 2021
Led by Knicks Go and Essential Quality, the multiple Grade 1-winning favorites for the $6 million Longines Breeders‘ Cup Classic; $2 million Longines Breeders‘ Cup Distaff favorite Letruska; and defending Longines Breeders‘ Cup Turf (G1) winner Tarnawa (IRE), 196 horses have been pre-entered for the 2021 Breeders‘ Cup World Championships.
The entries include eight returning champions – Knicks Go, Essential Quality, Tarnawa, AudaryaOrder of Australia, Gamine, Glass Slippers and Golden Pal.
The 56 international contingent is a record number, and spans seven countries: Great Britain has the biggest group of raiders with 26, followed by Ireland with 17 horses. Also, Japan (8), France (2), Argentina (1), Peru (1) and South Africa (1).
„International competition at its highest level is the hallmark of the Breeders‘ Cup, and we thank the horsemen and women who prepare these outstanding equine athletes for the biggest races in their careers for their participation“ – said Drew Fleming, Breeders‘ Cup President & CEO.
Tarnawa (IRE) completed an undefeated season last year with a 1-length victory in the Breeders‘ Cup Turf (G1) at Keeneland, providing trainer Dermot Weld with his first Breeders‘ Cup win. This year, the 5-year-old debuted in August when she won the G3 Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown, and has since been second in two Group 1 “Win and You’re In” races in Leopardstown’s Irish Champion Stakes in September and the 3rd Oct Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien has won the Breeders‘ Cup Turf a record six times. He saddles 4-year-old filly Love this year, as she won Royal Ascot’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes to earn her place.
The Americans best hope is 4-year-old son of Kingman, Domestic Spending, a two-time Grade 1 winner in 2021 for trainer Chad Brown.
More Breeders‘ Cup Trivia
Breeders‘ Cup Classic
Likely favourite Knicks Go has never run 1 1/4m before: he’s going to have to hope the extra 1/8m doesn’t favour his Godolphin-bred stablemate Essential Quality.
Knicks Go, Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality, and Woodward Stakes winner Art Collector all enter the Breeders’ Cup Classic having won three straight races.
$9,678,279 is the combined purse earnings of the two leading contenders for the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic, both trained by Brad Cox. Knicks Go has amassed $5,553,135 in four seasons of racing, while Essential Quality has earned $4,125,144 in two seasons.
Breeders‘ Cup Turf
Returning champion Tarnawa is likely favorite, but this is a very difficult race to call.
Breeders‘ Cup Distaff
Letruska’s odds have been shortening. Bidding to be the Eclipse Award winner as Horse of the Year, 5-year-old mare Letruska is coming to Del Mar off the back of five straight wins, including the recent G1 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes.
Breeders‘ Cup Juvenile
Fourteen 2-year-olds are entered in this star-making event. All eyes will be on this field when making Triple Crown 2022 predictions. It’s headed by undefeated G1 winning Jack Christopher, and Corniche.
Breeders‘ Cup Sprint
Dr. Schivel rides a five-race winning streak into the Breeders’ Cup and is the prime contender.
Breeders‘ Cup Mile
Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby trains likely favorite Space Blues, winner of two recent G1s, including this month’s seven-furlong Prix de la Forêt in France.
IV. Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar Preview
by Umberto Rispoli
Fri-Sat 5 & 6th November – Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Del Mar
Well, we’ve certainly saved the best for last on this season’s blog, as we round off a spectacular summer at Del Mar with the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. It’s a real honour to have the sport’s showpiece event return to this picturesque and flourishing Fairgounds venue where, as Bing Crosby famously sang, the turf meets the surf.
As one of my adopted home tracks throughout the year, let me first give you a few thoughts on riding this storied Oval circuit. Naturally, as it’s my racing base, I’ve ridden here in work and on recent racedays over the past few weeks, and I must say the general bias towards the pacesetters getting home, which has always been a distinct trend here, seems even more pronounced this year. As usual, and as with most US dirt surfaces, outside draws are advantaged while the only insurmountable challenge appears to be the dreaded rail position, a significant worry for any horse occupying it on this surface. Gate-speed and tactical position are the keys, therefore, as it’s not easy to come from behind.
On the turf, it’s a similar(ish) story on draw and race-shape characteristics, but the Del Mar groundskeepers have done a fantastic job cultivating a lush covering of grass which gives everyone a fair shot. And with the weather set relatively fair (the sun is forecast to break through for temperatures in the high-teens) I’m expecting few surprises from the elements.
Right, let’s not waste another moment and crack straight on to this weekend’s blue-riband contest…
Umberto’s Breeders’ Cup Classic Big Race 1-2-3:
Winner: Hot Rod Charlie
Danger: Essential Quality
Place: Max Player
This year’s renewal of the $6m Classic really is the crowning crescendo on a glittering card. It’s potentially the best race of the season and – I kid you not, guys – of the nine horses assembled, six have a decent chance under my lights. Hot Rod Charlie just gets my nod (more on the main protagonists below) as I think he’s the one in peak condition as the season nears its close. Plus, his regular partner and my West Coast colleague, Flavien Prat, alongside his part-owner Bill Strauss. are good friends. So, perhaps I’m slightly open to accusations of bias!
Hot Rod Charlie – always works well when he has a target to run at and this week has been no different. The subtle French-cut blinkers he’s been wearing, only in the morning, were reintroduced after the Pennsylvania Derby – they help Charlie stay alert in a work situation and enjoy optimum conditioning. His recent work was visually on a par with his work prior to that PA Derby and with a ferocious pace seemingly assured, through the likes of Knicks Go and Medina Spirit, the race could be set up for him and Essential Quality.
Essential Quality – as I say, also seems sure to get the fast lead he craves, and it’s impossible to quibble with his form. He’s a street fighter who always seems to do enough, so expect him to be in the shake-up. Sporting the famous Godolphin blue and a blemish-free winning streak until arguably unlucky in the Derby, he’s my principal danger in the race. Although, it must be said, he wasn’t not as unlucky as “Charlie” in Kentucky, where pretty much everything went wrong for my selection from the get-go (badly bumped, baulked and still came home running despite being forced wide). Another reason why I give the son of Oxbow a marginal edge over Essential Quality.
Knicks Go – last year’s Dirt Mile winner will again bid to assert his serious speed and he’s certainly the fastest horse in the line-up. The big grey has looked his usual eager self in the build-up, yet I feel that will count against him down the Del Mar straight.
Medina Spirit – the other who will doubtless contest the early stages with Knicks Go and the the worry for connections is they will cut each other’s throats, especially when fired up out of the gates by other contenders keen to take a prominent position. Let’s side with those with better, and more consistent, strategic pace instead.
Max Player – just keeps improving and improving, so I can see him claiming a few more fancied scalps here, as his upward curve has still to plateau. It’s definitely the toughest race of the weekend, trust me, but this is one of the toughest horses around. Hailing from Steve Asmussen’s all-conquering hard, he may just be on the right trajectory as a long season catches up with other more proven performers.
Umberto’s rides big-race weekend fancies
The thing about the Breeders’ Cup is you can already feel the atmosphere has really cranked up a few notches, even in the run-up to the main event this week. It’s a rarefied air that some horses have to be taught to breathe. As for us jockeys, whether you’re on an outsider or a favourite, you just have to be here. So, I’m glad to be in with a live shot in a handful of races, where some of my mounts could surprise at big prices.
This 14-runner event looks very open and the betting backs that up. It can always get so trappy and tactical with two-year-olds but Pizza Bianca is a very tough individual with perhaps the most rock-solid claims. I wouldn’t put anyone off backing my charge, Helens Well, for a place. We broke her maiden duck together and I’ve always liked her. She’s progressive and shouldn’t be 50-1. For a more realistic danger, though, look to Chad Brown’s Consumer Spending, a filly who could be coming into her own. And as regular readers of my blog will know, Brown is a handler whom I rate super highly.
Another full field here, and you could throw a blanket over most of them in terms of what they’ve achieved. Which is why I’m stunned Stolen Base is 33-1, having run such a promising second last time at Keeneland to Tiz The Bomb. The latter is well-fancied here, so surely my guy has a huge chance too?!
Again, perhaps only for the places. Indeed, the home hopefuls may give best to a transatlantic raider in the shape of Hugo Palmer’s Dubawi Legend who has acclimatised well and whose stable knows the time of day. James Doyle may have to work a little harder from a wide draw, but he’s my pick.
The market makes this a match between Princess Grace and Going Global who theoretically holds a 3lb advantage on ratings. It’s hard to argue to be honest. Even the best-laid plans went awry for this thrilling filly when her winning streak came to an end at the hands of Madone, but Going Global has since regained the winning thread in no uncertain fashion. Stick with her, while I fear I may be battling for the minors aboard Constantia here. She’ll plug on to good effect, though.
As you may know, Smooth Like Strait is simply my favourite horse in training. Nearly a decade ago, of course, Wise Dan was a star over the mile for the likes of Velazquez and Lezcano and “Smooth” reminds me of that amazing horse a little, you know. He certainly retains a similar consistency and eight furlongs is his trip, make no mistake. Annoyingly, of late, he’s invariably finding one too good but we’ve got a great draw in the two stall for the FanDuel Mile where he can again put his tactical nous and great gate speed to devastating effect. Although his front-running style will always leave him potentially vulnerable to a fast-finisher, a win in this super competitive heat will make up for a season where he’s only been a whisker shy of greatness. His work sectionals have been sharp and this race has been the plan all year.
Hopefully, we can pull it off together from the front end. It will take a Herculean effort against the likes of Space Blues and In love but I couldn’t ask for a more willing or talented partner. He’s thriving on his racing which, it itself, is a joy to see.
My mount Going To Vegas delivered the hat-trick in Grade 1 Rodeo Drive Stakes at Santa Anita, a track of similar set-up to Del Mar, so she could hardly be going into battle in better form. Don’t get me wrong, she’ll run her race, but I’ve been seriously taken with the relentless rise of War Like Goddess this term, and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t tell you she is a formidable foe. In fact, I said a few starts back that there’s no need to oppose her until she loses her dominant form, and I stand by that. She’s not a bad price either, considering she’s on a five-timer.
Sadly, it seems highly unlikely that Friar’s Road will get his shot at glory here, as he’s fourth reserve. He’d been going really well in our preparations together, too, which is a shame. Tarnawa is an obvious favourite here to repeat last year’s heroics and you could make a strong case that this mare would’ve won the Arc with a clear passage last time. Still, even this proven globetrotter may have to give best to a couple of local lads in Gufo and Domestic Spending who both know every inch of this track and could make homefield advantage count.
German Derby winner Sisfahan comes with a second place to Arc winner Torquator Tasso from Grosser Preis von Baden. Winner Torquator Tasso has beaten Tarnawa, Broome and Walton Street in this specific race. With this form anything is possible for german trained Sisfahan.
Umberto Rispoli – Top-Jockey
Der ehemalige zweifache italienische Champion hat weltweit auf höchstem Niveau gewonnen, von Frankreich bis Japan und Hongkong. Letztes Jahr wechselte er über den Atlantik nach Nordamerika, wo er von seiner neuen Basis in Kalifornien aus seine Liebe zum Rennreiten neu entfacht hat, wie er sagt. Die Akklimatisierung erfolgte sofort und Umberto kam sogar bis auf einen Sieg an den führenden Jockey des Sommers in Del Mar heran.