Grass Racing Takes Center Stage Next Two Weeks At Del Mar - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Grass Racing Takes Center Stage Next Two Weeks At Del Mar

Del Mar’s paddock and grandstand

The Turf Festival at Del Mar kicks off next week and many of the races are starting to take shape. Eight grass races make up the event with purses totaling $1.4 million. Horses from the out-of-town barns of Chad Brown, Graham Motion and Michael Maker have been nominated for the races which annually draw horses from around the U.S.

Grass racing back east is at a premium this time of year, even more so now that Churchill Downs has all but 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) on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day.

The festival continues Friday with the 42nd running of the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2), another marathon race, this one for 3-year-olds and up. Fourteen horses have been nominated for the 1 1/2-mile test, including Stone Age from the Chad Brown barn. There's also Astronaut, who won the 2021 Del Mar Handicap; Order and Law, winner of the Cougar II (G3) this past summer; Balladeer, winner of the John Henry Turf Classic (G2) at Santa Anita, and Salesman, winner of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (G2) on the Breeders' Cup undercard.

The quality racing continues Saturday with the 47th running of the Seabiscuit (G2), which used to be called the Citation when it was run at Hollywood Park. The handicap will be run at 1 1/16 miles on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course.

Last year's Seabiscuit winner, Hong Kong Harry, has been nominated to come back to defend his crown as well as a few other former Del Mar winners including Balnikhov, winner of the 2022 Oceanside Stakes; Cabo Spirit, winner of the 2022 La Jolla (G3), and Hollywood Derby (G1) winner Speaking Scout.

Fifteen horses were nominated for the Seabiscuit. Entries will be drawn Wednesday.

The Turf Festival takes a pause on Sunday but the graded stakes continue at Del Mar. The Native Diver (G3) is run 1 1/8 miles on the main track. It's arguably the most intriguing race of the long holiday weekend based on the nominations.

Bob Baffert has nominated both horses who dead-heated in the Shared Belief this past summer at Del Mar, Mr. Fisk and Tahoe Sunrise. There's Skinner, trainer John Shirreffs Kentucky Derby (G1) entrant who 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 who ran third in the Native Diver last year.

Sixteen horses were nominated for the Native Diver (G3). Entries will be drawn Thursday.

The Turf Festival extends in to the final weekend of racing at Del Mar with five more stakes races. The Jimmy Durante (G3) for 2-year-old fillies; the Hollywood Derby (G1) for 3-year-olds, and the $100,000 Stormy Liberal turf sprint will all be run on Saturday, Dec. 2. The next day, closing day of the Bing Crosby Season, the Cecil B. DeMille (G3) for 2-year-olds and the Matriarch (G1) for fillies and mares will be run.

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