DEL MAR — With a theme focused on the early days of Hollywood and the actor who cofounded the famed seaside facility, officials were hoping the fall Bing Crosby Season would attract celebrities to the Del Mar Racetrack.
While there was no shortage of stars — mostly lookalikes — on opening day, it appears closing weekend will include one of racing’s most famous current figures.
Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome was nominated for the Hollywood Derby and Native Diver Handicap, 1 1/8-mile races that will take place “where the turf meets the surf” Nov. 29
The $300,000 Hollywood Derby would be the first time the 3-year-old thoroughbred would race on turf. The $200,000 Native Diver will run on the main Polytrack course, which will be replaced by dirt when the Bing Crosby Season ends.
California Chrome’s trainer, Art Sherman, plans to bring the horse to Del Mar for a workout Nov. 23 to decide which race he will enter. His preferred choice is the Hollywood Derby.
“Just the way he moves … makes me think he could be a good grass horse,” Sherman said in an interview with The Handicapper’s Edge, an industry newsletter.
Sherman said he’s wanted to try the horse on turf and Del Mar is “an opportune time.”
“If he can run on grass it will give me a lot of options with him next year as a 4-year-old,” Sherman said in the interview.
A win could bolster California Chrome’s chances at being named Horse of the Year.
He has eight wins in 15 starts and more than $4 million in earnings.
It won’t be California Chrome’s first appearance at Del Mar. He ran in two races there during the 2013 summer season. If all goes as planned, Del Mar could well be his last race of the year.
Track officials say California Chrome’s presence should help increase attendance and betting numbers to make the inaugural fall season, which ends Nov. 30, more successful than expected.