Turf racing takes center stage over the next two weeks at Del Mar – Horse Racing News
Turf racing in the East is at an all-time high this time of year, and even more so now that Churchill Downs has canceled much of its turf racing this fall. That leaves Del Mar the only show in town.
The Turf Festival begins with the 1 3/8-mile Red Carpet (G3) race on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day.
The festival continues on Friday with the 42nd running of the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2), another marathon race, intended for kids ages 3 and up. Fourteen horses were nominated for the mile-and-a-half test, including a Stone Age horse from Chad Brown’s barn. There’s also the Astronaut who won the 2021 Del Mar Handicap; Order & Law, winner of last summer’s Cougar II (G3); Balladeer, winner of the John Henry Turf Classic (G2) at Santa Anita, and Seller, winner of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G2) on the Breeders’ Cup undercard.
The high-quality racing continues on Saturday with the 47th running of the Seabiscuit Race (G2), which was called the Citation when it was run at Hollywood Park. The handicap will be run over 1 1/16 miles on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.
Last year’s Seabiscuit winner, Hong Kong Harry, is tipped to return to defend his crown as well as a few previous Del Mar winners including Balnikhov, the 2022 Oceanside Stakes winner; Cabo Spirit, 2022 La Jolla (G3) winner, and Hollywood Derby (G1) winner Talking Scout.
Fifteen horses were nominated for the Seabiscuit Award. Entries will be drawn on Wednesday.
The Turf Festival pauses Sunday but graded betting continues at Del Mar. The Native Diver (G3) is run 1 1/8 miles on the main trail. It’s arguably the most interesting race of the long weekend based on the nominations.
Bob Baffert nominated both horses that competed in last summer’s Shared Belief at Del Mar, Mr. Fisk and Tahoe Sunrise. There’s Skinner, the John Shirreff-trained Kentucky Derby (G1) participant who was scratched the day before the big race because of a fever. There’s also Reincarnate, who finished 13th in the Derby and Newgrange, an early Derby contender in 2022 and who finished third in the Native Diver last year.
Sixteen horses were nominated for the Original Diver Award (G3). Entries will be drawn on Thursday.
The Turf Festival runs through the final weekend of racing at Del Mar with five more races. Jimmy Durante (G3) for 2-year-old fillies; The Hollywood Derby (G1) for 3-year-olds and the $100,000 Stormy Liberal on turf will be run on Saturday, December 2. The next day, the final day of the Bing Crosby season, Cecil B. DeMille (G3) for two-year-olds and the mother (G1) for fillies and mares.