Del Mar to Reduce Turf Races by Third

The club is making big changes after eight horse deaths and

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    NEWSLETTERS

    After multiple horse fatalities at the start of the 2014 Del Mar Racing season, races on the turf track have been suspended for the next week to allow time for aggressive maintenance. A track consultant has also been hired. NBC 7’s Dave Summers reports on Aug. 1, 2014. (Published Friday, Aug 1, 2014)

     Seven race-related horse fatalities and one serious injury are leading to major changes at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, with the track's chief operating officer addressing concerns.

    Late Friday afternoon, track administrators announced maintenance schedules that will reduce turf track races by one-third, allowing for additional, aggressive up-keep.

    Track racing is suspended through next Friday, not just this weekend.

    Plus, Del Mar officials plan to hire a track consultant.

    For the first time since this rash of injuries – five on the turf and three on the main track – Chief Operating Officer Josh Rubenstein is speaking out about this year's season.

    Rubenstein said because the turf track is new, the surface is harder, but that could not be the only reason for so many injuries.

    The COO said overall, jockeys and trainers like the course.

    “The feedback we're getting from the jockeys about this course is that it is very safe. It is a little on the firm side but it is a safe turf course. Horses are getting over it in a good way,” Rubenstein said.

    Former racehorse owner Bert Ellis gave NBC 7 a glimpse into ownership.

    He said losing a horse is a lot like losing a child.

    “Now the thrill is coming that he is in a race and he might go and win. That's a big thrill. If a horse goes down like that, you're really worried. It’s like your kid got hurt. That's the way I look at it,” Ellis said.

    Rubenstein said the new turf has shallow ruts. He hopes aerating, regular watering and limited use will help the surface develop faster.