Culver City Observer -

By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporter 

Del Mar Lives Up to Opening-Day Hype


Opening Day 2018 at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Racetrack once again lived up to its billing, delighting the festive hat-adorned crowd. The predicted foul weather was held at bay where "the turf meets the surf" and instead gave way to sunny skies by late afternoon.

Minutes earlier, the featured $100,000 Oceanside Stakes race was won by 11-1 longshot Restrainedvengence.

The early excitement for the 33,112 in attendance revolved around the 24th annual Opening Day Hats Contest. Five celebrity "hat judges" studied hundreds of contestants parading, styling and swaying their ultra-creative chapeaus with red-carpet swagger.

Topping it off was a fine rendition of Bing Crosby’s “Where The Turf Meets The Surf,” the racetrack's official song, by veteran actor and singer David Hasselhoff.

The victory by Restrainedvengence was doubly sweet for the three-year-old's trainer, Val Brinkerhoff. He not only beat stables with much more money than his, but capped a day when two better-known trainers--Doug O’Neill and Jerry Hollendorfer--dominated most of the day.

O’Neill’s horses captured four of the first five races of the day while Hollendorfer’s entries grabbed three others in the ten-race opening day card.

“When you can beat the people we have to run with, with the little bit of resources we have, it’s awesome to beat these guys. We can’t do it very often but every once in awhile we get a horse that can do it,” said Brinkerhoff.

“I found the combination," Brinkerhoff added. "This rider [Evin Roman] and horse will get better.”

Brinkerhoff emotionally revealed that one his partners, Bob Grayson, Jr., was in full remission from recent battles with cancer following chemotherapy treatment. He credited the horse with contributing to Grayson’s recovery.

The winners of the Opening Day Hats Contest were presented on the track before the sixth race. The grand-prize winner was Leslie Monroy of San Diego, who naturally designed, constructed and used handmade lace as the winning ingredient.

“I did not think to win this at all. This was amazing. I would have been happy with just a ribbon,” Monroy said.

In the end, perhaps, a perfect trifecta: Longshot Restrainedrevenge won the Oceanside Derby, Brinkerhoff beat two of his better-funded trainers, and Leslie Monroy surprised herself by winning the Opening Day Hat contest.

Brinkerhoff said that Restrainedrevenge's next race will likely be the Del Mar Derby on Sept. 2. "We’ll be ready,” the trainer said.


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