If you are a trainer operating a public stable and feel compelled to have any style at all in terms of public image, Del Mar is a challenge.
You pass through the main gate of the barn area driving over a cattle guard. When you leave, you can only turn right. Parking is a crapshoot, most of it on dirt. The barns themselves – except for the multi-purpose monstrosities nearest the grandstand – escape attention for pretty much the entire 10 months since the previous closing day. Graffiti lingers from year to year, some of it dating back to the Clinton administration.
On Wednesday, one week before the opening of the meet, a pair of work boots dangled from an electrical wire strung between Barns E and DD, offering a Del Mar welcome to the early arrivals. Some trainers sent rouge and landscaping ahead in hopes of sprucing up the joint. Jim Cassidy’s sod was freshly laid. Mike Machowsky’s corner was humming with homey activity. And while Jamie Lloyd’s horses had not yet arrived, his forest of potted palms were present and accounted for.