Den's Legacy is among the favorites to win the Oceanside Stakes on… (Associated Press )
Opening day at Del Mar is set for Wednesday, and it's the one day of the year when Southern California horse racing fans forget about any troubles surrounding the sport.
Fans come out en masse (attendance on opening day was 47,339 last year), colorful hats pop up as if it were the Kentucky Derby and fields are so full that no one worries whether there's a shortage of horses.
As usual, the opening day $100,000 Oceanside Stakes for 3-year-olds going one mile on the turf has been split into two divisions, the sixth and ninth races on a 10-race card, after 22 horses were entered. Jockey Joel Rosario, who moved his business to the East Coast, is returning for one day before heading to Saratoga. He's the rider for two of the Oceanside favorites — Undrafted and Den's Legacy.
The jockey colony will be led by the trio of Rafael Bejarano, Edwin Maldonado and Joe Talamo, with Garrett Gomez, Mike Smith and Gary Stevens another trio to watch in big races during a 37-day summer meeting that runs through Sept. 4 and will have 43 stakes, including seven Grade I races.
Del Mar is where trainers unveil their most promising 2-year-olds, and that should be no different this summer.
Hall of Famer Bob Baffert has nominated 28 horses for the $300,000 Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 4 that determines the 2-year-old champion.
Baffert owner Arnold Zetcher has two promising 2-year-old fillies nearing debuts — Enchanted Fortune by Indian Charlie and Spring Moon by Zensational.
John Sadler, who won the trainer standings during Betfair Hollywood Park's spring-summer meeting, has high hopes for Kristo, a 2-year-old son of Distorted Humor.
Trainer Carla Gaines has juveniles from two longtime broodmares of owner Warren Williamson. Nashoba's Gold is by Smart Strike out of Nashoba, the dam of Grade I winner Nashoba's Key, and Mr. Excavator is a colt by Smart Strike out of graded stakes winner Tiz Elemental.
During this meet there will be racing Wednesday through Sunday and 14 different wagers available. The richest stakes is the $1-million TVG Pacific Classic on Aug. 25 that should bring out Game On Dude, winner of the Santa Anita Handicap and Hollywood Gold Cup.
Lots of fans will try to avoid parking hassles by taking the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train from Union Station in Los Angeles that drops riders off at the Solana Beach station. Del Mar offers free shuttle buses to and from the track.
Racing at Del Mar
When: Wednesdays through Sundays; July 17 through Sept. 4. Racing on Monday, Sept. 2.
Time: 2 p.m. first post; 4 p.m. on Fridays.
Admission: $6 (opening day $10).
Top stakes: Eddie Read Stakes, Saturday; Bing Crosby Stakes, July 28; Clement L. Hirsch Stakes, Aug. 3; Del Mar Oaks, Aug. 17; TVG Pacific Classic, Aug. 25; Del Mar Debutante, Aug. 31; Del Mar Futurity, Sept. 4.