With purses to exceed $700,000 per day and “Ship and Win” incentives to double, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is substantially increasing all overnight purses and offering record incentives for its upcoming Summer Meet, which opens Saturday, July 17, and runs through Labor Day, Sept. 6. Among the increases for overnights from last year, maiden special weight races will jump from $55,000 to $70,000, with a number of maiden claiming and open claiming purses also increasing. In addition, purse levels will be raised for several summer stakes races with the stakes schedule to be released in the coming weeks.
Average daily overnight purses for the 2021 season will be increased by over 30% as compared to 2019 levels. Del Mar's total handle for 2020 was above initial projections–despite a unique year due to the COVID-19 pandemic that allowed no spectators on site–which added funding to the purse increases for 2021.
Owners and trainers that ship out-of-state horses to race at Del Mar through the “Ship and Win” program will see significant boosts as well, with the participation fee for owners doubling from $2,000 to $4,000 and a purse bonus from 20% to 40% for all eligible races. The purse bonus will be upped to 50% for dirt races in the “Ship and Win” program. For example, a maiden special weight race on the main track this summer will carry a purse of $105,000 ($70,000 with a 50% bonus), plus a $4,000 starter bonus for out-of-state horses that qualify.
“We've got some real momentum in California as we prepare for the 2021 season and, based on the inquiries we're receiving, owners and trainers are taking notice,” said Del Mar's executive vice president for racing, Tom Robbins. “Our partnership with the Thoroughbred Owners of California [TOC], TVG, and The Stronach Group [TSG] has us on track for one of the most lucrative seasons in Del Mar history, which will be a boost for California racing and help set the stage for us to host the Breeders' Cup here again in November.”
The 2021 purse enhancements are partly due to a partnership with TOC, FanDuel Group's TVG, and TSG's 1/ST Racing. The agreement is expected to inject up to $15 million into California Thoroughbred purses and programs over the next two years.
Del Mar will offer a 31-day summer racing season this year. It will open with Saturday and Sunday cards (July 17-18), then switch to a Thursday through Sunday schedule. Keeping with tradition, the 2021 summer season will close on Labor Day.