Phil d’Amato (Benoit Photo)
DMTC Stables Notes
DEL MAR, Calif.— Del Mar is unique in so many ways, one of which manifests itself this time of the year. Nowhere else can horsemen on the West Coast find a place to work their horses on the grass than at Del Mar. While most tracks back east have closed their grass courses for the winter, Del Mar offers training on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course on Sundays during the fall meet.
That’s why last Sunday trainer Phil D’Amato broke out his arsenal of turf runners, 17 in all, during the morning session that lasts from 30-to-35 minutes. Quite a feat when you consider the number of riders needed to work all those horses and the planning needed to get everybody to the right place at the right time.
“There’s definitely a lot of planning,” D’Amato says. “Figuring out the sets, who’s going to breeze with who and with what rider.”
If you visit D’Amato’s barn on the backside at Del Mar, posted just outside of his office is a board where all the pieces come together. On it you’ll find horse’s names and who’s going to ride them listed below different times of the morning.
“It’s easy here (at Del Mar),” D’Amato continues, “because we have so many jockeys that are set to ride for the weekend. So to get them to breeze two horses back-to-back is not as tough as it seems.”
Those from the D’Amato barn, who took a spin on the turf course last Sunday (Nov. 20), included Hollywood Turf Cup winner Prince Abama and fifth-place finisher, Cash Equity; his entries in the G2 Seabiscuit, Masteroffoxhounds and Hong Kong Harry; his nominee for the $100,000 Stormy Liberal, Coulthard; for the G3 Cecil B. DeMille, Classical Cat and Excelia, and for the G2 Matriarch on closing day, Hamwood Flier.
“I’m a firm believer of being able to run your horses right out of their stall,” D’Amato says, “as opposed to shipping on race day. To come here where it’s nice and quiet during the fall meet when there is not a lot of traffic and the horses can take a deep breathe, relax and train on the dirt and turf. I think it’s very beneficial for them.”
It appears to be working. D’Amato won the trainers’ title at last year’s Bing Crosby meet and he’s leading so far again this fall with eleven wins in 28 starts.
The turf course will be open for the last time this season Sunday morning.