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Hovdey: A nationwide ill comes to roost at Del Mar

Thursday, September 6th, 2018

The non-profit Gun Violence Archive reports that so far during 2018, based on information available through Sept. 4, there were 39,333 gun-related incidents recorded by authorities across the nation that resulted in 9,858 deaths and 19,461 injuries. On Sunday alone, in the heart of the Labor Day weekend, 118 U.S. gun-related incidents have been reported, resulting in 36 deaths and 103 injuries.

One of those Sunday incidents and one of those injuries occurred at Del Mar Racetrack, where a man seen brandishing and discharging a .22 pistol in the area just outside the grandstand gates was shot by a deputy of the San Diego County Sheriffs Department. The man survived and was to be arraigned on weapons charges in a local superior court on Wednesday.

A statement released by the Sheriffs Dept. indicated that the man with the gun was frustrated by the news that the post-race concert featuring rap icon and movie star Ice Cube was sold out. The shots he allegedly fired sent patrons in the crowded fountain plaza scrambling for shelter.

“What was most upsetting, after the shooting stopped, was the fear of the people streaming out of the area,” said TVG host Todd Schrupp, who was on the air from the nearby broadcast set when the incident occurred. “In the gift shop near our set, the shop manager was behind the counter comforting a young girl who’d been separated from her parents.”

Ice Cube and his entourage were across the street from the track at the Del Mar Hilton, preparing to head for the venue, when authorities descended upon the track in force. With a chopper circling overhead and red lights flashing in the twilight, they understandably were leery about crossing the road.

“We assured them the police had the area secure and that crowd control for the concert was not an issue,” said Josh Rubenstein, Del Mar president. “They understood that canceling the concert would probably create even more problems.”

So the show went on.

Later this month the Crossroads of the West Gun Show will make its third of four appearances this year at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. There also will be loud music at the Fairgrounds again beginning next week, when the three-day Kaboo festival will feature such groups as Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains, and Stone Temple Pilots. Festival organizers have vowed extra security precautions will be taken.

But even the most ardent critics of rap’s more volatile lyrics must realize that it’s not the music. It was not the music at the Bataclan theater in Paris where 90 patrons were killed at a heavy metal concert. It was not the music at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando where 49 were killed at a dance rave. And it was not the country music filling the evening air on the Las Vegas Strip when 58 were killed at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.

It was the guns, and the hands that should never hold them.

Something old, something new

The Sunday shooting dominated the Del Mar news to the detriment of a memorable closing day on Monday.

Memorable, but business as usual, as Bob Baffert won the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity for the 14th time in the last 23 years, this time with the Candy Ride colt Game Winner for Gary and Mary West. Mario Gutierrez got the ride, while Baffert stable jockey Mike Smith had to settle for third aboard heavily favored Roadster at the end of the seven furlongs.

Of those previous 13 Baffert-trained Futurity winners, American Pharoah won the Triple Crown, Silver Charm took the Derby and Preakness, and Lookin At Lucky won the Preakness the following year, while Midshipman ended up 2-year-old division champion. The others faded from view before fully delivering on their Del Mar promise, so we’ll find out soon enough if Game Winner was a horse for the moment, or the long haul.

Rowayton and Drayden Van Dyke did the Futurity spade work on the lead and finished second, beaten 1 1/2 lengths, in an encouraging effort for the son of Into Mischief who is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer,

Van Dyke won two races on closing day to nail down his first major title in a quality duel with defending champ Flavien Prat. Baffert also won a pair on the closer, though his total for the meet fell far short of the prolific Peter Miller, whose 31 winners of all shapes and sizes equaled the high-water mark since the Del Mar season dipped under 40 days.

Baffert’s 14 winners included the Futurity, the minor Brubaker, and a dozen maidens. By contrast, John Sadler’s 12 winners featured eight stakes, among them the San Diego and Pat O’Brien with Catalina Cruiser, the Eddie Read and Del Mar Handicap with Catapult, and the Pacific Classic with Accelerate. Not surprisingly, Sadler’s purse total of $1.7 million topped the table.

“I was exhausted,” said Sadler, after decamping back to Santa Anita. “I took a four-hour nap yesterday. In a lot of those spots we were 1-5, and that gets you stressing when you’re supposed to win.”

Sadler hopes his Del Mar success translates to a long-awaited score in a Breeders’ Cup race. At 41 starters without a win, Sadler leads the league in frustration, although he likes to note that “even Susan Lucci finally won an Emmy.” He will be live in three or four races at Churchill Downs, including Accelerate in the Classic.

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