Del Mar cancels Thanksgiving racing; 7 turf stakes set for final two days of meet

Del Mar’s turf course is scheduled to host seven stakes races on the final two days of the meeting.
(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)

On the day that it had to cancel its Thanksgiving Thursday racing card due to predicted storms, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club took a semantical stab at looking on the bright side.

In a press release, Del Mar’s turf stakes “festival” became a “bonanza,” and that’s not just a public relations spin.

All seven stakes races previously scheduled to be spread out over four days will be staged on the last two cards of the fall meeting, Saturday and Sunday.

To make that happen, DMTC has moved its first post up by a half-hour, to noon, on Saturday and Sunday and will have cards of 10 races each day. There will be no turf racing Friday.

The schedule now looks as follows for the stakes with purses of a combined $1.3 million: Grade III Red Carpet Stakes, Grade III Jimmy Durante Stakes, Grade II Seabiscuit Handicap and Grade I Hollywood Derby on Saturday; Grade II Hollywood Turf Cup, Grade III Cecil B. DeMille and Grade I Matriarch on Sunday.

“We’ve got horses and horsemen coming into town from back East for our big races and we want them to know that their races will be presented as planned under safe and proper conditions,” said Tom Robbins, Del Mar’s executive vice president for racing.

Del Mar Racing Secretary David Jerkens said Sunday, Nov. 24, that the only out-of-state trainer thus far to pull his horses from racing here is Christophe Clement. He had four horses entered, including Candy Store in the Red Carpet.

A bad forecast that became a reality forced Del Mar to cancel racing last Thursday, Nov. 21 — the first full card wiped out due to weather in the history of the track.

The forecast for the coming week is similarly bad. The National Weather Service predicts rain could arrive Tuesday, Nov. 26, followed by periods of significant showers and possibly thunderstorms Wednesday, Nov. 27, and Thursday, Nov. 28.

The service said showers are likely for Friday, Nov. 29, while predicting partly sunny conditions Saturday, Nov. 30, and Sunday, Dec. 1.

Del Mar was looking to have a strong Thanksgiving card. There were 67 horses entered over eight races.

“The weatherman is making it tough, but safety always come first,” Robbins said. “We are appreciative of the cooperation from our horsemen.”

— Tod Leonard is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune