Harper ‘Couldn’t Be Happier’ With Breeders’ Cup Day One

On an extremely quiet Saturday morning in the stable area, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club President Joe Harper and his friend Steve Doros had the table area outside Debbie’s Restaurant – the eatery behind the stellite wagering facility run by trainer Richard Baltas’ wife – to themselves.

Harper, enjoying the company, coffee and tranquility hours before Day 2 of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships – potentially the biggest day in Del Mar history – was asked to assess Friday’s Day 1.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Harper said. “It was a rare opportunity to show off what Del Mar really is to a lot of horse people from all over the world. As I walked around, everybody I talked to seemed to be delighted with what they saw and how things were going.”

Harper had an opportunity to chat with Bill Thomason, his counterpart at Keeneland, which was a first-time host for the Breeders’ Cup in 2015. That facility, similar in size to Del Mar, drew generous praise for its staging of a highly successful event.

“I asked Bill if he had any regrets,” Harper said. “He said his only regret was that he forgot to get tickets for his kids.”

In the months leading up to the Breeders’ Cup, Harper had said that he only purchased one ticket for himself. Saturday morning, however, he confessed that some family members “finagled their way in.”

They were part of an announced crowd of 32,278 on track that wagered $9,350,746 and contributed to an overall handle of $52,669,915 that was higher than several in recent years hosted by much larger facilities.

“The stereotype that the place is too small, there’s not enough parking, traffic will be horrible isn’t true,” Harper said. “You have to think quality, not quantity.”

The announced crowd on Friday was below the 37,500 at which attendance had been capped for the sold-out event.

“They’ll all be here today,” Harper said. “We’re very careful (regarding attendance) that the numbers we put out are right.”

The post Harper ‘Couldn’t Be Happier’ With Breeders’ Cup Day One appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.


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