DEL MAR — A man who later made references to suicide ran across the track during the stretch run of the feature race at Del Mar on Thursday, barely escaping contact with several horses that were driving for the finish line.
The man, carrying a duffel bag filled with personal belongings, jumped the outer rail as the horses reached the top of the stretch. As the field got closer, he began running in the same direction as the horses and, about 30 yards before the wire, with Chris McCarron trying to avoid him aboard the race winner, Sea Of Serenity, the man flung the bag behind him, into the path of another horse.
The second-place finisher, Factual Attraction, missed the man by inches, and he was then missed by two other trailing horses--Toga Toga Toga and Regal Gentry--who simultaneously passed on either side of him.
The man, later identified as Russell Howard Caputo, 38, a onetime resident of Beverly Hills, then jumped the inner rail, ran across the turf course and was apprehended near the tote board by a member of the starting-gate crew and taken into custody.
The name of the race was the Royal Order of Jesters Purse.
William Knowles, director of security for the track, said Caputo was turned over to the San Diego County sheriff's office.
"There are indications," Knowles said, "that he's suffering emotional problems. When he was taken into custody, he made vague references to self-destruction. He said something about doing it on the train, then said that he wanted to do it on the track."
A sheriff's spokeswoman Thursday night said that Caputo had been sent to County Mental Health, a treatment facility, where he will remain for observation.
"No charges will be filed because of his inability to care for his own safety," Lt. Roberta Bethea said.
Sea Of Serenity appeared to be clear winner under any circumstances and he reached the wire 6 1/2 lengths in front of Factual Attraction, whose jockey, Alex Solis, was prematurely pulling his horse up in order to avoid Caputo.
Horse Racing Notes
Concern, who will be ridden by Gary Stevens, drew the No. 1 post for Sunday's $1-million Pacific Classic. The rest of the field in post-position order and with jockey are Blumin Affair (Chris McCarron), Slew Of Damascus (Corey Nakatani), Soul Of The Matter (Kent Desormeaux), Tinners Way (Eddie Delahoussaye) and Cleante (Alex Solis).