Racing at Del Mar resumes with track changes

DEL MAR, Calif. - Racing resumed on the grass track at Del Mar Wednesday, but this time without any deadly incidents.

Track officials closed down the turf this weekend after four horses died while running it in the first two weeks of the season.

"Our primary concern at Del Mar always is, number one, the safety of our horses and our riders," said Del Mar's Director of Media, Mac McBride.  "I truly believe we've had a run of very bad luck but when we had our latest incident on the turf course on Saturday, we said guys let's take a step back here and see if we can't make what we think is a good thing even better."

The inside rail was moved 18 feet and the grass was aerated and given a good soaking to loosen up the course.

Before the first race, jockey Victor Espinoza told 10News he wasn't worried about safety.

"Before it was just a little bit firm and the turf, it was just a little young," said Espinoza, who praised Del Mar for taking measures to keep the riders and the horses safe.

"It's a real science taking care of the turf course, so I give them a lot of credit to get it back in shape as quickly as they could. All they need to do is keep it good for another five weeks, and we'll be good," said horse owner Dyan Abrams, who had three of her 10 horses running on turf Wednesday.

"It's NASCAR on four legs, and so it's almost impossible to say nothing's going to happen," said racing enthusiast Floyd Kephart. "The question is do we make it as safe as possible? I believe we do. I believe this track goes out of its way to take care of horses and jockeys here."

There were no incidents on the turf track Wednesday, and Del Mar officials say they hope the dark cloud over the track has lifted.
 

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