Miller looks like the trainer to beat as Del Mar opens Friday

Del Mar Stable Notes
November 07, 2019 04:17pm

The sixth edition of Del Mar’s fall thoroughbred racing season begins Friday. As in the past, it will have Bing Crosby’s name on it and, if history repeats, Peter Miller’s fingerprints all over it.

In 2014, with the demise of Hollywood Park, Del Mar assumed the vacant fall dates on the Southern California racing calendar and dedicated the month-long meeting to Crosby, the 20th century entertainment superstar who founded the track in 1937. And from its inception the meeting has been a showcase for the locally-based trainer, Miller.

Miller, an Encinitas resident who stables the bulk of his expansive stable at the San Luis Rey training center, won the 2014 inaugural meeting training title and the last three in a row starting in 2016. He has averaged nearly 22 wins per year in the abbreviated (15-16 day) meeting over the last three years. The year Miller didn’t win the title, 2015, he had two fewer wins than Doug O’Neill (13-15) from 14 fewer starters.

While Miller has racked up fall training titles, the jockey honors have gone to a different rider every year. The champions, with wins in parentheses, going backward from 2018 are: Drayden Van Dyke (17), Flavien Prat (18), Norberto Arroyo, Jr., (12), Rafael Bejarano (20) and Victor Espinoza (12).

The opening-day featured Kathryn Crosby Stakes, a mile turf test for older fillies and mares with a purse of $75,000, attracted a field of nine. Excellent Sunset, a 5-year-old Irish-bred mare who was disqualified from first and placed second in the race a year ago, was tabbed the 5-2 favorite on oddsmaker Russ Hudak’s morning line.

The opening three days of the meeting, Friday through Sunday, lead to three weeks of  Thursday-to-Sunday racing, with a closing weekend featuring two Grade 1, $300,000 events – the Hollywood Derby on Saturday, November 30, and the Matriarch on closing day, Sunday, December 1.

First post is 12:30 p.m. PT each day with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, when it will be 11 a.m.

2019 Kathryn Crosby Stakes (LS)

 

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