ATTENDANCE, HANDLE UP ON TRACK AS MEET’S FIRST WEEK ENDS

Del Mar put its first week in the books Sunday and track officials found reason to smile when the numbers were tallied at both the wickets and the tote to start the 2009 racing season.

The average daily attendance of 22,674 for Week 1 vs. Week 1 of 2008 showed the seaside course up 14.9 percent. Similarly, handle for 2009’s first week of $2,732,147 was up 12.3 percent on track over 2008.

Noteworthy in the figures was the fact that on-track attendance was up each day of the new meeting’s Wednesday-through-Sunday schedule.

Del Mar raced six days per week in 2008, but has switched to a five-day-per-week schedule this year.

“We’re pleased and we’re encouraged,” stated Del Mar Thoroughbred Club president and general manager Joe Harper. “You can certainly say we’re off to a good start and there aren’t a whole lot of businesses around right now that can claim that.

“We have our first Free & Easy Wednesday this week and we’ve got our fingers crossed that our fans are going to respond positively to that, too. We’ve started off on a little roll and we hope to keep it going.”

Del Mar’s daily average attendance during the 2008 season was 16,002 per day. Its daily average on-track handle was $2,167,028 per day.

SHARP WORKOUT MAKES WELL ARMED SOLID FOR SAN DIEGO

A pleased trainer Eoin Harty said this morning that Dubai World Cup champion Well Armed is well prepared for his comeback race, Sunday’s San Diego Handicap, following a 5-furlong workout on Monday.

The 5-year-old son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow stopped the clock in one minute flat for the five panels, announcing his readiness for his first start since the March 28 World Cup, which he won by 14 lengths. Of the Monday drill, Harty said this morning, “He worked very well. He’s ready to run.”

Regular rider Aaron Gryder was up for the work and oozed confidence this morning when he talked about Well Armed. Of the horse’s talent, he said matter-of-factly, “He’s faster than most.” But, he went on to talk about the progress the horse has made as he’s grown up. “He’s always been an easy horse to ride, but he just keeps getting better.

“He’s relaxing more and he enjoys running more. We never try to put him on the lead, but he gets there a lot of times because he’s just faster. He’s a big, long strider and he likes to get comfortable. He listens to me; when I want more, he gives more.

“I think he started maturing and getting really good last year in the San Diego [which he won], and he ran a great race in the Pacific Classic [in which he finished second].”

It’s not as if he won’t be tested, however, with a field of possibly 10 ready to see if he might be vulnerable in his first race in more than four months, bearing high weight of 123 pounds.

Already committed to the race are Song of Navarone, who will carry 116 pounds, including Joel Rosario; Mast Track, 114, with David Flores; Magnum, 114, Martin Pedroza, and the filly Life Is Sweet, 113, with Garrett Gomez.

Considered possible for the race are Californian winner Informed for trainer Doug O’Neill, Cigar Man for Vladimir Cerin, Temple City for Carla Gaines and either the filly Allicansayis Wow or Ball Four, from the Patrick Biancone barn at Santa Anita. In addition, Bob Baffert has a pair of prospects – Sangaree and Spurrier – that could run, though no decision has been made.

Trainer Mike Machowsky was hopeful of getting his 3-year-old Kelly Leak into the race, but his assigned weight of 112 pounds could keep jockey Mike Smith from riding and Machowsky said he wouldn’t run the colt without Smith. “It wouldn’t be fair to Mike [to try to make that weight] and I wouldn’t want to put on pounds to run against the World Cup champion.”

Joining Well Armed on the work tab earlier in the week were Kelly Leak, a bullet 1:25.20 for 7 furlongs Monday; Temple City, a bullet 59 flat for 5 furlongs; Informed, 1:02.60 for 5 furlongs; Magnum, 1:00.20 for five panels, and Sangaree and Spurrier, 6 furlongs in tandem in 1:12.80.

SIX-TIME WINNER CARLSBAD LEADS SOLID FIELD IN SAN CLEMENTE

Carlsbad, with a sterling record of six wins and a second in seven lifetime starts, leads of field of 10 into Saturday’s 42nd running of the Grade II San Clemente Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.

The San Clemente is the major prep for the Grade I, $350,000 Del Mar Oaks at 1 1/8 miles on the turf Saturday, August 22.

Carlsbad, whose only loss came in Hollywood Park’s Grade III Railbird after a six-week breather, will carry high weight of 120 pounds, including regular rider Tyler Baze. The filly bounced back from the loss to capture the Grade II Hollywood Oaks June 7.

Strawberry Tart comes to the battle on a two-race win streak for trainer Jeff Bonde. Martin Garcia retains the mount. Also in line to challenge Carlsbad are Acting Lady, Oilgonewile, Hameildaeme, Nan, Starlarks, Fastongrass, Internallyflawless, and Kaweah Princess, with Wake Me Now as an also-eligible.

GRADE I WINNER COLONEL JOHN HAS TOUGH TASK IN WICKERR

Trainer Eoin Harty on Friday’s Wickerr Stakes: “There aren’t any Grade I winners there, but it’s a very tough race.” His reference to Grade I winners had to do with all the other horses entered, not with Colonel John, winner of the 2008 Santa Anita Derby and Travers Stakes, both Grade I events.

But his observation about the toughness of the field was on the mark. Those set to face Colonel John, making his first start since December 26 and first ever on grass, include Sky Cape, winner of Del Mar’s La Jolla Handicap last year; Ferneley, a veteran of graded stakes action; Tiz West, a frequent graded stakes runner who won the 2008 Grade III Cinema Handicap at Hollywood Park; Becrux, another who has run in numerous graded stakes; Generalito Nain, an Argentine-bred who is a group winner there and will be making his first start in the U.S. for Darrell Vienna; Aitcho, Prussian, Silent Soul and Concerto’s Thunder.

Listed as an also-eligible is Get Funky, winner of the 2006 Grade II Del Mar Derby.

SON OF POPULAR FILLY MEGAHERTZ TRAINS TOWARD START HERE

Megahertz, who gave Del Mar fans numerous thrills with her come-from-behind running style that netted a second in the 2002 Del Mar Oaks and a first in the 2003 Mabee Stakes [when it was a handicap], now has a 2-year-old colt nearly ready to run at the seashore.

Causeithertz, by Giant’s Causeway, is working toward a possible start on turf later in the meet, according to Ral Ayers, assistant to Jeff Mullins. The colt worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.80 Sunday.

DMTC INSTITUTES “FREE & EASY WEDNESDAYS” FOR FANS

Del Mar racing fans will begin a season-long “Free & Easy Wednesdays” plan when the track reopens after its first two “dark” days Monday and Tuesday.

The program for Diamond Club members features free admission to the Stretch Run area of the track, free program and free seat, along with half-priced domestic draft beer, sodas and hot dogs at Stretch Run concession stands.

MARLEY’S WAILERS BRING REGGAE TO FRIDAY CONCERT NIGHT

The Wailers, the back-up band for Bob Marley and The Wailers from 1974 until Marley’s death in 1981, will bring a program of reggae music to Del Mar for the second of the season’s Friday night concerts. The music will start about 7 p.m., following the day’s eighth and final race.

Following Marley’s death, Junior Martin and Aston Barrett led the band, with bassist Barrett continuing on with the band through the years. Joining him are Elan Atias, lead vocalist; Keith Sterling on keyboards, Anthony Watson on drums, Audley Chisholm on rhythm guitar, Chico Chin on trumpet, Everald Gayle on trombone and Brady Walters and Cegee Victory on back-up vocals.

Post time for the first race Friday is 3 p.m.

SHORE LINES – Jockey Rafael Bejarano, who suffered serious facial injuries in a spill on opening day, July 22, was released from Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla on Sunday … What’s ahead for Sunday’s Osunitas Handicap winner Meydan Princess? “Maybe the Mabee,” quipped trainer Jim Cassidy. The John C. Mabee Stakes will be run at 1 1/8 mile on the turf Sunday, August 16 … Those who have followed the fortunes of trainer Darrell Vienna no doubt have noticed a number of young horses running for him with “Suances” in their names. That’s right, they are progeny of one of his major runners this century, Suances, and they are all owned by Red Baron’s Barn, which also owns Suances and stands him at Rancho Temescal in Piru, Calif. Vienna has 1! 2 in the barn and says, “They’re all runners, just like their dad.” Suances won the Grade II San Francisco Breeders’ Cup, defeating Decarchy, The Tin Man and Sarafan, and the Dallas Turf Cup at age 5 for Vienna and finished third in Del Mar’s Wickerr Handicap at 6 behind Touchoftheblues and Inesperado … Jockey Garrett Gomez will throw out the first pitch at the game between San Diego and Atlanta Tuesday, August 4.

TRAKUS FACTS – Sun., July 26 – Peak Speed: Race 6 (Polytrack) – The Great Atlantic – 43.6 mph (first 1/8th); Race 5 (Turf) – Dawn Before Dawn – 42.7 mph (first 3/16th); Fastest Late Stretch Run: Race 9 (Polytrack) – Street Royale – 36.8 mph (final 1/16 th); Race 10 (Turf) – Justinsidethegates – 37.8 mph (final 1/16th).

DEL MAR COMBINED JOCKEY & TRAINER STATISTICS
(Current Through Sunday, July 26, 2009)

Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Tyler Baze 38 6 4 4 16% $230,897
Joseph Talamo 32 6 4 1 19% $243,160
Joel Rosario 39 5 3 9 13% $270,683
Victor Espinoza 28 4 8 0 14% $241,816
Corey Nakatani 18 4 5 2 22% $418,680
Mike Smith 16 4 1 1 25% $156,240
Christian Santiago Reyes 26 3 4 5 12% $106,400
Garrett Gomez 31 2 4 2 6% $111,008
Alex Solis 23 2 3 6 9% $172,276
Michael Baze 15 2 1 1 13% $81,960

Trainer Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
John W. Sadler 18 5 3 3 28% $182,325
Bob Baffert 15 3 0 1 20% $103,334
Robert B. Hess, Jr. 9 2 2 1 22% $59,400
Barry Abrams 14 2 2 1 14% $112,300
Doug F. O'Neill 15 2 1 2 13% $120,840
Vladimir Cerin 6 2 1 1 33% $97,520
A. C. Avila 6 2 1 0 33% $228,800
Jeff Mullins 7 2 0 1 29% $70,460
Tim Yakteen 2 2 0 0 100% $24,600
Peter Miller 10 1 2 1 10% $35,420


Winning Favorites Report
(Current Through Sunday, July 26, 2009)

Winning favorites -- 7 out of 47 -- 14.89%

Winning favorites on Polytrack -- 6 out of 34 -- 17.65%

Winning favorites on turf -- 1 out of 13 -- 7.69%

Winning odds-on favorites -- 3 out of 6 -- 50.00%

In-the-Money favorites -- 19 out of 47 -- 40.43%

In-the-Money odds-on favorites -- 4 out of 6 -- 66.67%