Monday’s will be a little darker in San Diego this summer

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Opening Day at Del Mar (photo by Dayna Murphy)

Opening Day at Del Mar (photo by Dayna Murphy)

For anyone visiting San Diego, the Del Mar Fairgrounds has been one of San Diego’s most prized gems. It is the site of the San Diego County Fair and one of the main San Diego music venues during the summer.

But for a good portion of the summer you will hear the thunderous sounds of horses galloping. From Wednesday to Monday in the summer, anyone could enjoy a day at the track, but all that has changed for the first time in a very long time.

For the first time in 64 years, Del Mar will have a “dark” Monday. Due to the state of the economy and the decrease in the race-ready horse population, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club requested and received permission from the California Horse Racing Board to cut back on its races this year.

When Del Mar opened way back in 1937 and through 1945, it was on a Tuesday-to-Saturday schedule. Then from 1946 to 1974, the six-day racing week became standard when Monday was added to the schedule. When racing joined other sports in doing business on Sunday in 1975, Del Mar has been open from Wednesday to Monday.

Del Mar is not the only racetrack cutting back this year.  A few other tracks such as Gulfstream Park in Florida, Inglewood’s Hollywood Park, and even the renowned Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, have cut back their races as well.

Although this may seem like a dark time for the regular attendees, there are some positives that come from this decision. The “dark” day will provide a time for the horses, horsemen, and players to rest and recuperate. This can lead to bigger fields, the quality of the races will be better, and will offer a much better experience for everyone attending.

If races are run with short fields, then it is a lot easier to win or at least get a part of the purse in a small five-horse race from a trainer’s perspective. However, from the player’s perspective, it is not ideal to bet on a small field and betting is what drives the whole industry. Monday was usually the lightest day of the week anyways.

There was not much resistance to the idea of changing the format when it was presented to the California Horse Racing Board in April. The proposal passed with a unanimous vote, and soon after Hollywood Park followed changing from a five-day format to a four-day format. Trainers agree that Del Mar’s decision is just a sign of the times.

Del Mar is definitely one of the places to visit in San Diego. With the economy the way it is right now, and the gas prices getting lower. Just maybe more people in San Diego will take more day trips and head out to Del Mar. Hopefully going five days will provide more value for everyone do heading out to the races.

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