- Del Mar Racetrack concluded their 7th consecutive fall race meeting on Sunday.
- Beer Can Man was the upset winner in the G3 Cecil B. DeMille for 2-year-olds paying $41.20 to win.
- Chad Brown trained horses dominated the closing weekend stakes races.
Just in the nick of time as California goes back under another series of increasingly Draconian COVID-19 restrictions the fall race meeting at Del Mar Racetrack concluded on Sunday. Despite the lack of fans–a shame given the beautiful weather throughout–the meet was a success for a track with solid growth in all sources betting handle. Chad Brown has been the dominant trainer during the meet and that was the case once again on closing weekend as his horses took charge throughout the stakes race schedule.
The two big stakes events on Sunday were the $300,000 Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes and the $100,000 Grade 3 Cecil B. Demille Stakes. Trainer Chad Brown shipped in three top flight fillies for the Matriarch for the race on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course–Tamahere, Viadara and Blowout–along with similarly credentialed jockeys Irad Ortiz, Jr., Joel Rosario and Flavien Prat (respectively).
Viadara came into the day as the morning line favorite at 7-2 coming off of wins in her two previous races–the $100,000 G3 Noble Damsel Stakes in September at Belmont Park and the De La Rose Stakes back in July at Saratoga. Viadara went on to take the Matriarch Stakes but it was a battle to the wire with stablemate Blowout and Juliet Foxtrot with veteran Mike Smith aboard. Blowout set the pace early only to be joined midway through by Juliet Foxtrot. Their battle set the stage for Rosario to call on Viadara in the stretch run to eke out the victory. Viadara went off at 5-1 and paid $12.80, $5.80, and $3.80 on a $2 wager.
Form may have held in the Matriarch but that wasn’t the case in the day’s other stakes event. In the Grade 3 Cecil B. DeMile for 2 year olds Royal Prince was the 7-2 morning line favorite but the shock winner was privately owned Beer Can Man who won his stakes debut, his first start in California and first start at a mile to take the event and the lion’s share of the $103,000 purse by a half length over 6-1 choice Caisson. Commander Khai finished third with favorite Royal Prince well off the pace. Beer Can Man paid $41.20, $14.80 and $10.60.
The fall meet aka ‘The Bing Meet’ in reference to Del Mar founder Bing Crosby has been well received by the betting public even if none have been able to attend in person. Projections heading into the final weekend indicated a double digit growth in all sources handle–as much as 25%–over the same meet in 2019. There’s a number of factors that are being credited with the surge–excellent weather, more racing days, and larger (and stronger) fields.
With the track closed to the public, the revenue increase has primarily come from advance depot wagering sources. Despite the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, Del Mar was able to finish their full meet which hasn’t been the case at other tracks in California and elsewhere. There was some concern that the curtailment of business at simulcast locations and off track wagering outlets would hurt the handle but that hasn’t been the case according to track chief financial officer Mike Ernst:
“Fortunately, the wagering has held up. Overall, it’s been strong. We fully expected we were going to beat that (2019 handle). We didn’t expect to beat that by 25 percent.”
Hopefully, the momentum for the track will continue through next year with fingers crossed for a return of live spectators at the 2021 summer meet which traditionally begins in July.