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Another Big Opening Day at Del Mar

Opening day of the 75th summer racing season drew an on-track crowd of 42,021 and a total handle of $14,858,277.  Down slightly from 2013 for attendance, up slightly for handle.

 Touching on a few scenes and highlights:

  • Brazilian-bred Hawk’s Eyes won the first race, for Brazilian-born jockey Tiago Pereira and Brazilian-born trainer A.C. Avila.

  • Apprentice jockey Drayden Van Dyke, 19,  won the second and fourth races in his Del Mar debut and ended the first racing day tied with Martin Garcia atop the jockey standings. “Good start,” Van Dyke’s agent, Sarah Wolfe, said Friday. “He was back out here at 4 a.m. Had some workouts to ride.”

  • Vann Belvoir saddled winners in the fourth and sixth races, the only trainer to post more than one opening day victory.

  • Stewart Elliott guided Know Plans to a $52.20 upset in the seventh race for trainer Barry Abrams. It was the first mount at Del Mar for Elliott, who rode Smarty Jones to Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes victories in 2004.  Know Plans, a 5-year-old son of Unusual Heat, was a longshot to live as a baby after incurring an illness that cost him an eye and was 1-for-8 entering Thursday’s start. “I wasn’t surprised he won, but surprised he went wire-to-wire,” Abrams said. “If you look at the past performances, he’s had trouble every race. I told (Elliott) if nobody runs into you, you’re going to win. I didn’t tell him to go to the lead, he did that all on his own.”

  • The hitch by which the starting gate is pulled broke shortly after the start of the featured one-mile Oceanside Stakes forcing starter Gary Brinson’s crew to muscle the gate manually to the side before the horses came back around for the finish.

 

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