When it comes to the best Summer meets in American thoroughbred horse racing, look no further than Del Mar and Saratoga. Both rich in tradition and a long history of memorable horse racing. Both historic race tracks are known for bringing in the top American horses and those from around the World. Below, we breakdown the stakes races and purse money to show you how they compare to one another.
The 2012 meet in Saratoga Springs, New York commences this Saturday, July 20th and brings 40 days of racing. In those 40 days, there are a total of 54 stakes races in which 33 of them are graded.
July: 8 graded stakes worth $2,350,000 in purse money
August: 18 graded stakes worth $7,700,000
September: 7 graded stakes worthh $2,400,000
Total: $12,450,000 in purse money
Among the 33 graded races, the marquee races include the $1,000,000 Grade 1 Travers Stakes for the top three year old colts and gelding, Grade 1 Whitney Handicap for the top older males, as well as the Alabama Stakes for top three year old females.
The 2012 meet in Del Mar, California begins today July 18th and brings a total of 37 racing days. In those 37 days, there are a total of 43 stakes races, in which 20 of them are graded.
July: 5 graded stakes worth $2,350,000 in purse money
August: 11 graded stakes worth $3,100,000
September: 4 graded stakes worth $1,150,000
Total: $5,300,000 in purse money
Among the 20 graded stakes, the featured races include the $1,000,000 Grade 1 TVG Pacific Classic for the top older males, Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch Handicap for top older females and the Grade 1 Bing Crosby for the top male sprinters.
As you can see, when you compare apples to apples the Saratoga meet gives out much more in terms of purse money and is more enticing for owners, trainers and jockeys to stable their horses. However, if you look at this from a true horse racing perspective, the opportunity to win and be more competitive is better at Del Mar. In recent history and stats, Del Mar has less competition. The fields are smaller, there are less horses, trainers and jockeys in Del Mar than there is at Saratoga.
As an owner/trainer, would you rather put your horse in a field of 10-12 horses, or a field of 5-7 horses? In New York, you have to deal with Todd Pletcher, Christophe Clement, Linda Rice, Kiaran McLaughlin, Chad Brown, Bill Mott, Shug McGaughey, Nick Zito, Graham Motion, Jonathan Sheppard, D. Wayne Lukas, Ken McPeek, Steven Asmussen, and Dale Romans. No offense to trainers in Southern California as their are many terrific trainers, but their stables are not as deep as you will find out East. Aside from Bob Baffert, you will see a drop off in terms of sheer number and quality of horses. Trainers such as Mike Mitchell, John Sadler, Peter Miller and Doug O’Neill just don’t compare.
As a jockey, would you rather compete for mounts against Javier Castellano, John Velasquez, Ramon Dominguez, Joel Rosario, Jose Lezcano and several other top jockeys or would you rather compete against Rafael Bejarano? That’s what it boiled down for someone like Julien Leparoux. A rising star in his own right, decided to make the move out West to Southern California after racing in New York at Aqueduct and Belmont Park. With the departure of Joel Rosario in June (the only jockey to compete with Bejarano the last 4 years), it opened the door for jockeys such as Leparoux to challenge for serious mounts in the big races. Joe Talamo, Garrett Gomez, Mike Smith and Martin Garcia are the only main threats. It was quite the drop off in total wins at the recent BetFair Hollywood Park meet where Rafael Bejarano won the riding title with 74 wins. In 2nd place was Joe Talamo with 49 wins and Gomez in 3rd with 29 wins.
If you’re a fan, all the stats, purse money and competition don’t mean as much. Either way, if you watch all the action at these two tracks, you will be sure to enjoy yourself. I know I will. Can’t wait for the action to begin!
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