DEL MAR, Calif. (May 22, 2014) -- “Ship and Win,” Del Mar’s prosperous program that has attracted hundreds of out-of-state racehorses to the seaside oval over the past three summers, is back for another season in 2014 with its lucrative incentives attached once more.
The policy – initiated by Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in partnership with Thoroughbred Owners of California in 2011 – currently offers a guaranteed $1,000 check to all starters, as well as a 33 1/3% bonus payment (stakes races excluded) on top of any purse monies won in a first start at Del Mar to owners of horses who last raced outside California.
Del Mar’s 75th racing season will begin on Thursday, July 17 and continue through to Wednesday, September 3.
In an additional wrinkle to this year’s program given the new racing calendar in Southern California, Del Mar will be offering a special consideration to its sister racetracks Santa Anita and Los Alamitos. Horses that come from out-of-state and run first either during the final three weeks of the extended Santa Anita season (June 12 to June 29) or the two weeks of the inaugural Los Alamitos Thoroughbred meet (July 3 to July13) will remain eligible for Del Mar’s “Ship and Win” bonus.
In 2011, 107 horses took advantage of the economic encouragements to race at the shore. In 2012 the number of new runners rose to 137. Last year it went up once again, this time to 149 head of fresh stock.
“We’ve had a solid and steadily increasing response to this program,” noted Del Mar’s executive vice president for racing Tom Robbins. “We’re expecting more of the same in 2014. And not only do these horses come and make a start at Del Mar, most of them make subsequent starts, then stay on the circuit for good. It is a winner all the way around for Southern California racing.”
Last year’s numbers back up Robbins’ assertions about the program being beneficial to racing in the southern half of the state.
Of the 149 runners who made an initial start at Del Mar and collected a $1,000 check, 59 of them made at least one more start during the track’s 37-day season. All told, the 149 runners made 275 subsequent starts in California through the final Hollywood Park session that ended December 22.
In 2010, the year prior to the start of “Ship and Win,” Del Mar averaged 8.2 runners per race. Yet despite average field size falling at virtually every racetrack in the country, the shore oval’s numbers have risen every year since, with a direct tie to the out-of-state program being the key. In 2011 the track’s field size went to 8.4 per race; in 2012 in rose to 8.7, and in 2013 it registered at 8.8.
Most wagering studies indicate a notable increase in handle can be tied directly to field size. New additional horses feed handle, which in turn feeds purses, making the “Ship and Win” program a positive in all regards.
Del Mar’s purses – the largest in California and among the largest of any track in the country – also have risen during the three “Ship and Win” seasons. In 2011, the track’s daily average purses reached $630,000 per afternoon. In 2012 it jumped up to $687,498, while last year it reached a record $707,000 per card.
Citing three examples, Robbins noted that “Ship and Win” bonuses attached to the track’s already husky purses mean that shippers in a straight maiden race could be running for a $100,000 purse. Additionally, $62,500 claimers would be chasing $90,000 pots and $12,500 claimers run for $37,000.
He encouraged horsemen who had questions about the “Ship and Win” program to contact him directly at the track’s racing office at 800-874-8443.