Turf course at Del Mar racetrack back open: Changes made to course to prevent horse deaths

DEL MAR, Calif. - For the first time in eight days, horses got back on the turf course at the Del Mar racetrack.

Horse enthusiasts were excited that things got off to a better start this weekend compared to last weekend.

"I think it's great that they got through without any injury," said a spectator.

Officials have spent the last week aerating and watering the turf. They also moved the inner rail outward in hopes of preventing more deaths on the track.

"We will have a turf course we believe will be a little bit softer, a little bit kinder to our horses. We'll have a fresh course to run on and we like it," said Mac McBride, who is with the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

Since the season started, 10 horses have died. Three were due to natural causes, and the others were put down following catastrophic injuries on both the track's synthetic course and its brand new $6 million turf.

In addition to improving the course, track officials also eliminated sprint racing in hopes of keeping the horses safe.

"Sprint racing is very demanding of the horses and also of the surface of the course itself," said McBride. "We've taken that out of the element completely."

Fans 10News spoke with say they are glad major changes were made and hope the remainder of the season is a winner.

"So far so good after that last race, just hoping for no more injuries," said spectator Carlos Ortega. "It was really bad prior to it."

There were three races on the turf Saturday and two are scheduled for Sunday.

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