June 8, 2023

Del Mar season kicks off with full field in Oceanside

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club kicks off a 36-day meet Wednesday (Horsephotos.com)

The 79th summer season of racing at Del Mar kicks off Wednesday for a 36-day stand that runs through September 3. The lid-lifter, which annually attracts the largest on-track crowd of the season, kicks off at 2 p.m. (PDT).

The customary opening day feature, the $100,000 Oceanside, will be run as the eighth race on the 10-race program. It is a one-mile turf feature for three-year-olds that have not a won a stakes of $50,000 at a mile or over in 2018, and is generally a prelude to the La Jolla H. (G2) and Del Mar Derby (G2) later in the meet.

A field of 16, including two also eligibles, were entered, with a maximum of 14 to start. Desert Stone, the lukewarm 4-1 choice on the morning line, is trained by Richard Baltas, who has conditioned the son of Fastnet Rock to two consecutive wins, a maiden and an allowance, during the Santa Anita spring meet.

Texas Wedge, a closing second down the hill at Santa Anita in his season debut, could move forward second off the bench for Peter Miller. The Colonel John colt beat allowance foes on the Del Mar turf last November, albeit at five furlongs.

One of the more experienced members of the field, Arawak, has placed four times in stakes company, most recently finishing third to River Boyce in the $98,000 Rainbow at Santa Anita. The speedy Calexman, a graduate on the Del Mar turf last fall, enters off a narrow allowance win at Santa Anita over More Honor going short, while the stakes-placed Move Over was also a last-out allowance victor going about 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita.

Other potential contenders include Artie B Good, Afleet Ascent, Respect the Hustle, Heartfullofstars, and Pepe Tono.

Racing will be held on a Wednesday thru Sunday basis with a special Monday card on Labor Day, the final day of the meet. The meet highlight is the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) on August 18.