Letter to readers about the new California section


Churchill Downs
For Del Mar, a troubled time of fallen horses
For Del Mar, a troubled time of fallen horses

Del Mar's summer of discontent began with a sadly fitting omen. On opening day, July 17, 11 horses left the starting gate for the one-mile feature, the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes. It was the first day of the 75th season of thoroughbred racing at the seaside track, started and made famous by Bing Crosby. The 42,021 on hand, putting on the now traditional fashion show and alcohol-consuming extravaganza that had given the track the place-to-be image, were focused on the horses, heading to the first turn. Gary Brinson's starting gate crew did what it always does. In less than 90 seconds, it had to hook up the 22,000-pound gate blocking much of the width of the track to a tractor...