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Del Mar: Ship and Win Program Returns

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Del Mar’s highly successful program to lure out-of-state horses to its summer meet in 2011 will be reprised this season with an additional boost to the incentives offered to horsemen who bring new runners to the seaside track.

 

The arrangement, dubbed the “Ship and Win” program, was responsible for attracting more than 100 horses from other racing jurisdictions during the track’s 37-day meeting, helping it to increase its field size and causing a positive ripple effect for other Southern California race meets.

 

Last year the track guaranteed all horses that raced at the meet who had started outside California in their previous outing a check for $1,000, plus a further bonus of 20% added to whatever purse monies they won in that first local start. This year’s enhanced version of the program still will offer the $1,000 checks to horses who qualify, but additionally will up the purse bonus to 25%.

 

Once again the $1,000 payment will apply to any starter in any race at Del Mar, including its full list of 43 advertised and overnight stakes. The 25% purse bonus, however, counts only toward general overnight purses, meaning all stakes races are excluded.

 

“This was such a winner for us last year we knew we had to bring it back again this season,” said Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s executive vice president for racing Tom Robbins. “We wrote those checks to 107 horses all told and it helped turn the tide for us on field size. We brought some new horses and horsemen to the state and gave encouragement to our local horsemen to pursue runners from other venues, something we’d like to see a whole lot more of this time around.”

 

Robbins noted that Del Mar again partnered with the Thoroughbred Owners of California in the program and had received encouragement from the horsemen’s group to boost the bonus percentage by an additional 25% this year to take it to the current 25% level.

 

The 25% bonus can add sizeable funds to an initial start at Del Mar for an owner. In the case of a $70,000 maiden special weight purse, the winner’s share amounts to $42,000. Adding in the bonus payment means an additional check for $10,500. The track’s lowest-level claiming race – for $8,000 – carries a purse of $20,000 and a winner’s prize of $12,000. The bonus for that horse would be $3,000.

 

Those bonus figures would be enhanced further still by the automatic $1,000 payment each out-of-state runner earns in their initial start at Del Mar.

 

“We partnered with Del Mar on this last summer and were pleased with the outcome,” said TOC president Lou Raffetto. “Not only did it provide additional runners at their meet, but many of the horses stayed and ran at Santa Anita’s fall meet and at Hollywood Park, too. If we can get horses out here to race, they’re likely to stay. So bringing the program back – and making it even better – was the right thing to do this time around.”

 

Different studies have shown that larger field size produces more handle, which in turn produces more purse monies. Some studies have pointed to field size as the single-most important factor in driving betting upwards. Proponents of the “Ship and Win” program feel that even though bonus money is offered to new runners, they, in fact, pay for themselves by their presence – and often repeated presence -- in races on the circuit.

 

In 2011, Del Mar offered the richest overnight purse schedule in the country – and in the history of California – at more than $400,000 per day. When all figures were included for the seven-week session, total daily average purses registered in at $630,000. The track plans on offering higher overall purses for its 2012 meeting.

 

“We think ’Ship and Win’ is a smart way to be competitive in our business right now,” said DMTC’s chief executive officer and president, Joe Harper. “We’ve got to have horses to put on a show and this is a proven way to make it happen. We’d especially encourage our California owners and trainers to take advantage of these bonuses and bring fresh stock on the scene. We recognize that they have a financial burden in buying and transporting horses out here and we think a program like this goes a long way toward addressing those issues.”

 

Robbins, who also is Del Mar’s racing secretary, suggested that any horsemen with questions about any portion of the program contact him directly at the track’s racing office at 800-874-8443.

 

Del Mar’s 2012 season – during which it salutes its 1937 opening and celebrates its 75th year – opens on Wednesday, July 18 and runs through Wednesday, September 5. Racing will be conducted five days per week from Wednesdays through Sundays, with one additional racing program on Labor Day Monday, September 3.

 

 

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