DEL MAR, Calif. (Sept. 19, 2014) -- “Ship and Win,” Del Mar’s simple, yet very effective, program to attract out-of-state horses to run at the shore oval will be in place for the track’s first November race meet which kicks off on Friday, November 7.
The policy – initiated by Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in partnership with Thoroughbred Owners of California in 2011 – has drawn nearly 600 out-of-state runners to Del Mar over the past four summers, most of whom remained on the California circuit.
Owners shipping in, or importing, runners from other circuits are rewarded in two ways: First, they receive an automatic check for $1,000 when their horse makes its first start at Del Mar; next, they receive a purse bonus payment should that horse win that initial start. That bonus sum has varied from 20% to 33 1/3%, but will be set at 30% for the track’s fall stand.
Del Mar’s 15-day fall meet will be conducted primarily on a Thursday-through-Sunday basis from November 7 through Sunday, November 30.
The 30% bonus payment boosts purses notably for out-of-state horses. For example, the track’s scheduled purse for a straight maiden race this fall is $56,000, but when the bonus payment is factored in it rises to $72,800. Further, a $25,000 claiming race carries a standard purse of $32,000, but that climbs to $41,600 when bonus monies are considered. A complete list of purses with “Ship and Win” bonuses can be found here.
The first season Del Mar offered “Ship and Win” incentives (2011) there were 107 out-of-state horses that took advantage of it. In 2012 that number rose to 137, then in 2013 it was up once more to 149. This past summer it jumped to a new high when 187 runners earned additional funds through the program.
“Realistically, with our shorter fall meet, we’re not looking for the same kind of numbers response we’ve seen here in the summertime,” said Del Mar’s executive vice president for racing Tom Robbins. “But ‘Ship and Win’ has proven a real winner and helped us maintain healthy field size and add handicapping spice to our mix. It not only gives us a boost, it provides extra horses for the entire circuit; it’s good for all of California. We’ll hope for more of the same come November.”
Del Mar’s regular summer meet runs for seven weeks and either 36 or 37 days. The November session will cover four weeks and 15 racing days.
Field size at Del Mar has remained on the high end despite horse shortages at race meetings across the country. The tie to “Ship and Win” has helped the seaside track stay on course in that regard. In 2010, the year before the “Ship and Win” program was put in place, Del Mar averaged 8.2 runners per race. In the four years since it has been 8.4 (in 2011), 8.7 (2012), 8.8 (2013) and 8.8 (2014).
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 “Ship and Win” 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 “Ship and Win” seasons. In 2011, the track’s daily average purses reached $630,000 per afternoon. In 2012 they improved to $687,498 before going to $707,000 per card in 2013. The recently concluded session saw purses ascend to a record daily high of $723,000.
The basic rules involved with “Ship and Win” call for a horses to have made their most recent start outside of California. Robbins encouraged horsemen who had questions about the program to contact him directly at the track’s racing office at 800-874-8443.