Mark Glatt won his milestone 1000th race at Del Mar last Friday when jockey Edwin Maldonado led Zestful to a gate-to-wire victory in race three, the only horse the 47-year-old trainer saddled that day.
A fixture on the Southern California scene for the past 20 years, Glatt is young enough to hit more milestones in the future, but the wins could get tougher with fewer and fewer race days on the calendar.
There was a time, not long ago, when Del Mar raced six days a week. Santa Anita was in action five days a week. Those days, mainly due to a dramatic decline in Southern California’s horse population, are long gone. Whether they ever return is a matter of debate.
“We need to focus on how to rebuild the horse supply,” Glatt said during a 30-minute telephone interview this week on the eve of Del Mar’s annual holiday weekend Turf Festival. “That is a primary concern. Especially when Southern California is one of the most expensive places to maintain a horse.
“Our wallets don’t follow the same in many different places around the country. In order for the horse inventory to come back to something (close to) what it was, I think we should see a substantial increase in wallet money. ”
Many other racetracks across the country are increasing their wallets through slot machine income.
For example, Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto offered $ 100,000 for first special weights in the summer. Del Mar has an initial special weight of $ 57,000 this weekend.
But California tracks cannot install slots and transfer money from alternative gambling to help the wallet structure due to state law. Santa Anita announced last week that it is increasing its overnight wallet by 10 percent for its 2020-21 meeting, and that’s a start, but Glatt says the California racing industry needs extra help to attract new owners.
“We’ve fixed many of the other problems,” he said. “We have seen a huge decrease in the number of outages due to the different protocols that have been put in place. I think some have helped. I don’t think some have made a difference, but the numbers are definitely going in the right direction, and that’s a good thing.
“There is a lot to be grateful for and there are many good things about California, but the financial difficulties for horse ownership and business in general in California are making it increasingly difficult to stay. I think it will be a challenge to get the horse inventory back to a level that is suitable for further racing. ”
A possible solution?
“How do we attract new horses and new people to come to California? It will be challenging because of the toughness of the racing, the cost of living for humans and the cost of maintaining a horse, ”said Glatt. “Hopefully there is a way the state can help us, (maybe) through instant racing machines like they have in other places.
“Our wallets are based solely on pari-mutuel bets. So it’s hard to compete with some of these other race tracks where it’s a lot cheaper to race and a lot cheaper to drive, and you run a fair bit more money in many categories. ”
Glatt is scheduled to run two horses this weekend, when Del Mar has seven graded stakes, all on the turf. The first, the $ 100,000 Grade III Red Carpet Handicap for fillies and mares, was held Thursday during the circuit’s special Thanksgiving Day card.
He has entered Tartini into both today’s $ 200,000 Grade II Hollywood Turf Cup and Saturday’s $ 200,000 Grade II Seabiscuit Handicap. He wasn’t sure what race the Giant’s Causeway 6-year-old son would go to on Wednesday, but it will be his first start under Glatt’s care after being transferred to the Monrovia resident’s shed when his former trainer, Jack Carava, left college to become Tyler Baze’s agent.
“He’s won three of his last four and he’s training quite well, but I have to say we ask a lot from him in both races. Both races were extremely tough, and so it remains to be seen if he plans to compete against horses of this caliber in any of those races. ”
On Sunday, Glatt Beer Can Man, a recent private purchase by Little Red Feather Racing, saddles into the $ 100,000 Grade III Cecil B. DeMille Stakes for 2-year-olds.
“It will be his first start around two innings, so we’re not sure what to expect,” said Glatt. “The horse trains well. He’s won his last two and he loves the turf, but he hasn’t stretched out yet. That is always a big question for a young horse, whether they can pick up the ground. We’ll see if he can make it through the two turns. ”
The weekend’s two big events are a pair of $ 300,000 Grade I races – the Hollywood Derby on Saturday and the Matriarch Stakes on Sunday on the closing day of Del Mar’s Fall Bing Crosby rally.
Follow Art Wilson on Twitter at @ Sham73