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.