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Thoroughbreds at San Luis Rey Training Center get ready for Del Mar

Energy, enthusiasm and anticipation is increasing each day at the San Luis Rey Training Center in Bonsall, where hundreds of thoroughbreds are being prepared for the upcoming Del Mar racing season.

The Del Mar summer meeting ranks as one of most prestigious in horse racing, and more than 40,000 people are expected to attend the opening-day program on Friday, July 15.

The season runs through Monday, Sept. 5 (Labor Day), and horses based at San Luis Rey figure to be a factor throughout the 39-day session.

"It’s definitely beneficial to our racing program to have a training center like San Luis Rey," said Del Mar racing secretary David Jerkens, who was at the Bonsall facility on June 24 to meet with trainers and hand out condition books (a publication listing the different races that will be offered each day).

"We roughly get about eight horses per day that start at Del Mar, and that's just the horses that ship from San Luis Rey to Del Mar the day of the race," said Jerkens. "There are other horses that have been preparing at San Luis Rey that ultimately are stabled at Del Mar."

The list of trainers that have horses at San Luis Rey includes Peter Miller, who owns three Del Mar training titles, and Keith Desormeaux, who won this year's Preakness Stakes with stable star Exaggerator.

San Luis Rey's amenities include a one-mile racetrack with wide sweeping turns, a starting gate staffed by expert assistant starters, an equine swimming pool, a vast stable area with stalls for 500 horses, and calming surroundings, which makes it an ideal place for young racehorses.

"If you’re preparing 2-year-olds to race at Del Mar, this is where you’d want to be," said Jerkens of San Luis Rey.

Kevin Habell, general manager of San Luis Rey Training Center, said you can feel when the Del Mar meeting is imminent.

"It’s very good energy and everyone’s very happy here,” Habell said. "Everyone’s anticipating the meet and getting ready for it."

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