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Del Mar racing secretary expects strong showing from San Luis Rey horses


Last updated 7/24/2017 at Noon

The 6-year-old gelding Solid Wager, shown here winning the 2016 Cary Grant Stakes under jockey Victor Espinoza, is among the horses based at the San Luis Rey Training Center in Bonsall that will be competing at Del Mar during the summer racing season. Solid Wager hails from the barn of top trainer Peter Miller. Benoit Photo photos

The stables at the San Luis Rey Training Center are nearly full, and that has Del Mar racing secretary David Jerkens expecting big things from horses based at the Bonsall facility.

Del Mar opened its prestigious summer racing season July 19 and the 36-day meeting runs through Sept. 4. Jerkens is counting on San Luis Rey to provide a steady supply of runners throughout the season.

"We expect San Luis Rey to be filled up, so it will have a significant impact on Del Mar in terms of day-to-day racing," said Jerkens. "This is my fourth summer (as racing secretary) and we're relying on San Luis Rey more this summer than any of my previous three."

Some 480 thoroughbreds are currently stabled at San Luis Rey, which can house 500 horses. San Luis Rey-based horses consistently helped fill the racing cards at the 2016 Del Mar summer meeting and they performed quite well, winning 38 races.

Several of the leading trainers on the Southern California circuit have horses stabled at San Luis Rey. Peter Miller, who has won three training championships at the seaside racetrack, has used the training center as his primary base for years.

Miller is coming off a title-winning campaign at Santa Anita, where he topped the trainer standings at the 2017 spring meet with 36 victories. Phil D'Amato and Richard Baltas tied for second in the standings with 25 wins apiece. D'Amato and Baltas also have horses at San Luis Rey.

According to Jerkens, D'Amato is stabling horses at San Luis Rey for the first time this summer. Also maintaining a string at the training center for the first time is Doug O'Neill, a two-time winner of the Kentucky Derby (I'll Have Another-2012 and Nyquist-2016).

"The big guns are there," said Jerkens in reference to Miller, O'Neill, D'Amato and Baltas.

Jerkens also noted that Keith Desormeaux, who trained 2016 Preakness Stakes winner Exaggerator, has horses at San Luis Rey.

Del Mar will present 41 stakes races worth $7.3 million during the summer meeting, including the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic Aug. 19. The stakes slate includes 21 graded stakes (six Grade 1 events, 11 Grade 2 races and four Grade 3 contests).

Peter Miller, right, has won three training championships at Del Mar. Miller has stabled the majority of his horses at the San Luis Rey Training Center in Bonsall for years.

Horses from the Miller barn that are expected to compete in stakes include Stormy Liberal, who has already won four stakes (all at Santa Anita) this year; Roy H, who most recently captured the Grade 2 True North Stakes at Belmont Park in New York; and the promising 3-year-old filly Chalon, who is coming off a victory in the Jersey Girl Stakes at Belmont Park.

A popular runner in the Miller stable is the 6-year-old gelding Solid Wager, who captured the Cary Grant Stakes at Del Mar last fall. Solid Wager, who also won the Cary Grant in 2015, has been training steadily at San Luis Rey for the summer meeting.

Del Mar conducts racing on a Wednesday-through-Sunday schedule. Post time is 2 p.m. with the exception of Fridays, when first post is 4 p.m. There will special Monday racing Sept. 4, Labor Day/closing day, and 3:30 p.m. post times the final two Fridays (Aug. 25, Sept. 1) of the meeting.


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