DEL MAR, Calif. — The California Horse Racing Board on Thursday approved Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s request to start its season next month.
The season will run July 10 through September 7, but a few major changes will be in place. There will be three runs a week instead of five — held Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays — and it will be a longer season at nine weeks. For at least the beginning of the season, the stands will be empty and betting will take place online.
Craig Dado, the club’s executive vice president, says racehorse owners, trainers and jockeys are thrilled to get a chance to compete and the stakes will be high.
“Traditionally, 10% of the betting is done on track,” Dado said. “Our signal goes all over the country, all over the the world and most of the betting is done that way. In a lot of ways, we’re a broadcast studio. But we have huge crowds at Del Mar. We’re all about concerts and festivals and stuff like that — that’s going to have to wait until next year.”
If social distancing efforts step up and COVID-19 cases go down, there’s a chance fans will be able to see some of the races from the stands.
“We’re hopeful that at some point before Opening Day we can get some people on track, but right now we don’t know,” Dado said. “We’re going to be pushing for it.”
“Initially look at perhaps bringing our owners, maybe an owner and a family member on board to watch their horses run, that would be a good start for us,” club spokesman Mac MacBride said. “And then we hope not only at the start of our meet but at least maybe when we get in to the meet — we’re going to race July and August — maybe August is going to look a little different than July, and possibly it might be that at some point during our meet we might be able to bring fans in also.”
Training for the upcoming season will begin June 24.