The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is one competitive track. And we’re not talking horses. We’re talking Turf Club reservations, clubhouse boxes and, because Del Mar is a resort destination, hotel rooms and tee times. Until this season, however, Del Mar, like virtually all of the tracks in the country, paid little attention to the needs of horse owners, trainers, jockeys and their friends. But now Del Mar has Anne Palmer. As the newly installed horsemen’s representative, her mission is to keep the high-rollers and VIPs, endangered species in recessionary times, happy.
“Can you imagine Jerry Buss having difficulty getting tickets to a Laker game?” she asks. “Owners are tired of begging for a table in the Turf Club.” So Palmer, 38, makes sure that never happens. Acting as track concierge, she takes care of the owners, getting them on the golf course, into the Turf Club or a “booked” hotel.
Palmer needs not only the stamina of a wire-to-wire racer, but the diplomacy of a maitre d’ at Spago on a summer Saturday night. But the point is to keep the high-rollers coming back. “Tracks have done a poor job of taking care of their horsemen,” she says, “and they’re the ones who put on the show.”