Edit ModuleShow Tags

6 Things We Bet You Didn’t Know About the Races

A little insider knowledge… but nothing that will help you win money


1.  Some of the horses have “barn buddies.”

Del Mar Barn Buddies

Who knew a goat could be a secret weapon? Horse trainer Julio Canani is known to put a goat in a stall with a nervous horse. Canani, whose horses have won 42 stakes at Del Mar, grew up on a farm in Peru and knows the power of creature comfort. “I used to go to France five or six times a year because the owners [I worked for] would send me to look for horses over there. The first time I put a goat in a stall was with Tuzla because she was nervous.” Tuzla calmed down and went on to finish second in the 1999 Breeders’ Cup and retire with $1.3 million in career earnings. The winning technique was featured in the HBO show Luck. “That was about my life. One of my goats was in the show. He is named Vicente.” The goat trick works. Except in Canada. “Canada doesn’t let the goats go over there.”

2. If you have $20,000, you can own parts of five or six horses.

For less than the price of a single horse (which can cost millions), you can experience the thrill of ownership, more than once in a season. Scott Kaplan, co-founder of Great Friends Stables in Del Mar, runs his horse racing syndicate like this: Every summer, 20 people put in $20,000 each. “It’s gambling, not investing. It’s for fun and networking,” he says. “When you win, you go crazy. It’s such an adrenaline rush. Your body just vibrates.” They buy their horses before the Del Mar season and sell them at the end. And the next season, it starts all over again.

3. You can “sing with Bing”.

Every day from the Winner’s Circle, a brave soul gets up and sings “Where the Turf Meets the Surf,” the song co-written by Bing Crosby in 1938. “We’ve had some great performances as well as some train wrecks,” says Chris Bahr of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Most people sing a capella, but past performers have included guitarists, fiddlers, trumpeters, ukulele players. NFL Quarterback Drew Brees, The Wayan Brothers, and pop singer Taylor Dayne have all taken the mic. If you want to sing with Bing, email chris@dmtc.com.

4. Many of the horses arrive via FedEx.

That’s right. If a horse owner doesn’t have his own plane, a horse transport service will book the animal on an airline like Lufthansa or special FedEx equestrian cargo planes.

5. The jockeys pray before the first race each day.

For 43 years, the Race Track Chaplaincy of America has been praying for the safety of every jockey. There are 47 track chaplains in the U.S., and Eddie Meza, a former jockey, has been serving Del Mar, Santa Anita, Pomona, and the now-shuttered Hollywood Park for the last two decades. Married to trainer Francis Meza, his day starts at 8 a.m. and he does more for the jockeys than just pray. He walks from barn to barn and helps workers with applying for visas, renewing green cards, translating for owners, and making trips to the doctor. Every day at 12:30 p.m.—30 minutes before first post—he invites everyone to the jockey room. “Sometimes I get five jockeys, sometimes 20. I say a verse of the Bible and pray, ‘Take care of them and be safe.’” He also does the same thing at the starting gate. And yes, the former jockey ministers while mounted on a horse.

6. You can get a haircut at the track.

Well, jockeys can. And Joe Harper can. Chris Aplin, an exercise rider in the morning and a hair cutter in the afternoon, has a little barbershop directly behind the newly remodeled Paddock Pub.

Coming Soon: The Bing Crosby Season

November 7–30 marks the first fall meet for Del Mar. Race days will occur Thursdays through Sundays—and yes, that includes Thanksgiving Day. Planners are going for an old Hollywood glamour vibe, attaching Bing’s name to the season. We think that means no sun dresses and smaller, more tasteful hats. Ladies, get out your finery!


More: Del Mar, Decoded

Horse Betting 101
What to say at the betting window »

Special Events
The 2014 season runs July 17-September 3 »

The Hat Contest
What it takes to win »

Watchful Eyes
Stewards scrutinize the jockeys and horses »

How a Horse Knows to Run
What makes horses “break,” or jump out of the gate »

What's in a Name
How horses get those unique monikers »


Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Get to Know the Wild Psychedelic Rock of Mexico's Los Dug Dug's

The language of psychedelic rock isn't quite universal, but the band's four albums suggest it's close enough

‘The Humans’ Is an Engrossing, Eerie Family Portrait

What SD Rep’s latest lacks in dramatic punch, it makes up for in dialogue and atmosphere

Have a Gay Ol’ Time with 'Twelfth Night'

San Diego Junior Theatre does gender-bending Shakespeare with professional-level talent and modern flair
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Best Chicken Wings In San Diego
    The results of food critic Troy Johnson’s epic quest for the city’s best tiny chicken
  2. San Diego's Best New Restaurants of 2019
    From a 200 million-dollar renovation project to a dirty little burger, these made a dent
  3. The Must-Try Dishes of 2019
    SD Mag food critic and Food Network judge Troy Johnson names his top dishes of the year
  4. Video: A Peek At Our Insiders Club
    For members only…New perks, insider info and access to the editors
  5. The SoCal (Social Calendar!)
    From black-tie galas to costumed 5Ks, these events will keep your social calendar full—and you feeling good
  6. Where to Celebrate New Year's Eve in San Diego 2020
    Whether you’re celebrating the end of a decade or the beginning of a new one, these are fine choices of venue.
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles

October is Rideshare Month

Join the Rideshare 2015 Challenge and get there together
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags


Come See What’s New in Palm Springs

This SoCal city is constantly reinventing the landscape with new places to stay and play

Win Tickets to the 42nd Annual SDCCU Holiday Bowl

This year’s USC vs. Iowa match-up marks the Holiday Bowl’s third straight paring of teams that are ranked nationally in the top 25
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags