The Associated Press
Del Mar will reduce its schedule to five days a week, dropping most Monday programs because of the economy when the seaside track opens its 70th season in July.
Track officials said Monday that racing will be staged Wednesdays through Sundays from July 22-Sept. 9. The only Monday races will be on Labor Day.
It’s the first time since 1945 the track won’t race six days a week. The move reduces the meeting from its usual 43 days to 37.
“There’s a pinch on everyone due to the economy; there’s a pinch on the number of racehorses available in the state,” Del Mar president Joe Harper said. “Racing folks have been talking about racing less and presenting a better product because of it for some time now.”
The track plans to add one additional race to its cards on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Under consideration are Wednesday promotions that would offer free admission and reduced food and drink prices.
Del Mar racing secretary Tom Robbins said it had become harder to fill racing cards.
“As a result of this change, I think our fans will see larger fields and better cards across the board,” he said.
California’s horse population has declined recently, while the number of mares bred in the state and the live-foal crop are both down over the last 10 years, Robbins said. The economic downturn has reduced discretionary spending for claiming and buying thoroughbreds.
Del Mar began its Wednesday through Monday schedule in 1973, when California approved Sunday racing. The track located north of San Diego was founded by Bing Crosby in 1937.