Trainers playing the claiming game at Del Mar

The pace will slow down as the Del Mar meet wears on, but at the current rate, there would be about 360 horses claimed this summer at the seaside oval.

Yeah, it’s an absurd number that will never even be approached, but it’s interesting to note the number of claims through the first four days of this 37-day meet.

Forty — count ’em, 40!!!! — horses have been claimed so far, including six in the sixth race, a $10,000 claiming event for horses 3-years-old and older, on Friday night.

Mike Mitchell leads the way, having claimed three in the first three races on opening day and four overall. A number of trainers have claimed three horses so far, including Steve Knapp; Paul Aguirre, who took two in one race; Jack Carava; Doug O’Neill; and Adam Kitchingman.

Overall, 16 horses were claimed opening day, five on Thursday, 14 on Friday night and five more Saturday.

There were signs this could happen at the recently concluded Hollywood Park spring-summer meet, where claims were up significantly over 2010.

On Friday, Hollywood Park reported a total of 195 claims during its 54-day meet. The total cost of those purchases was $4,206,500.

Both numbers were up considerably over the 57-day spring-summer meet a year earlier when there were 151 claims for a total cash outlay of $3,120,000.

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