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Del Mar Brings Back ‘Ship and Win’ for 14th Season

Two of Del Mar‘s most popular programs for its horsemen and horsewomen are set for a return at the seaside oval this summer. The highly successful “Ship & Win” and the relatively new, but solidly backed, Maiden Dirt Bonus once again will enhance the racing product of the shore oval as the track prepares to kick off its 85th summer stand.

“S & W” will be entering its 14th consecutive season at Del Mar, serving as a strong incentive for horses from out of state to race locally and enhance the track’s reputation as one of the nation’s top facilities for field size. More than 2,600 horses have taken advantage of the “S & W” bonuses since its inception in 2011 with a majority of those runners staying on to race at other locations in California. 

The Maiden Dirt Bonus is entering its third season at the shore and has helped to solidify field size in the track’s maiden special weight dirt races, a key stepping stone on the racing ladder for runners beginning their careers. 

The “S & W” program provides a guaranteed $4,000 check for any qualified runner in their first start at Del Mar. Additionally, there is a 40% bonus applied to purse winnings for that initial start as well as any subsequent outings during the eight-week meet. As an example, the summer meet’s first-condition allowance purse of $76,000 is elevated to over $106,000 with the “S & W” supplement.

Local owners and trainers continue to be strong supporters of the “S & W” program. In the summer of 2023, 100 of the 184 “S & W” horses (54%) who came on board were owned and trained by California connections. In 2022 it was 125 of 222 “S & W” runners (56%) who were locals.  

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The Maiden Dirt Bonus provides a 20% purse bonus to horses of any age in maiden special weight races on the dirt. That extra money applies to horses who run first through fifth in “open” straight maiden races and it offers a similar reward to those who run second through fifth in California-bred dirt races. This supplement results in these maiden special weight races offering $90,000 purses.

The bonus is available only to those trainers who have fewer than 85 horses on the Southern California circuit.

“These two programs have helped provide backbone to our daily racing cards,” said Del Mar vice president and racing secretary David Jerkens. “The inclusion of out-of-state horses adds to the depth of our racing product and the fact that the vast majority of them stay on and compete at other tracks in the state has a positive ripple effect for all of California racing.”

There are some basic rules that go with the “S & W” program that can be viewed at

“The key metrics for a flagship meet with the status of Del Mar are quality racing, big field sizes, integrity and safety,” said Bill Nader, the CEO of Thoroughbred Owners of California. “Del Mar scores high marks across the board and, as a result, the attractive racing content drives handle, which is our sole source of purse generation. Programs like “Ship & Win” and Maiden Dirt Bonus contribute to this success.”

The Del Mar summer season opens on Saturday, July 20 and concludes Sept. 8. After the opening two-day weekend, racing will be conducted on a Thursday-through-Sunday basis for the majority of the session. First post on most afternoons is at 2 p.m.

This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.

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