Legendary Horses that Raced in Del Mar

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Del Mar racetrack’s slogan “Where the Turf Meets the Surf” is created because the  Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is a horse racetrack located at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in Del Mar, California.

Of course, many fans are looking forward to each season, especially this upcoming breeders cup juvenile being held in the said place. The racetrack features seasoned trainers, jockeys, and some talented horses of the generation. So now, let’s look back at the most celebrated heroes that conquered the del mar club since its opening.


On August 12, 1938, the legendary Seabiscuit-Ligaroti match race happened, attracting 20,000 spectators in the venue. Even amateur racing enthusiasts have heard of Seabiscuit and his famous match race against War Admiral that year.

Seabiscuit’s victory against Ligaroti was his fourth year, and his following victory over War Admiral earned him Horse of the Year honors.

Seabiscuit was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1958. Moreover, he was ranked 25th in Blood-Horse magazine’s list of the Top 100 US Racehorses of the 20th Century in 1999.

Silver Charm

Silver Charm won his first race as a two-year-old in the Del Mar Futurity. His next big race was the 1997 Kentucky Derby, and it was Gary Stevens who rode him. Silver Charm was placed sixth in a field of 13 and broke strongly out of the starting gate. He finished ahead of Captain Bodgit in the Derby.

Silver Charm went on to win the Preakness Stakes, running ahead of Captain Bodgit and Free House. However, he lost the third jewel of the Triple Crown when he finished second to Touch Gold in the 1997 Belmont Stakes by three-quarters of a length.

Nonetheless, he won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Three-Year-Old Male Horse in 1997 and finished second in the Malibu Stakes to round off his sophomore season.

Silver Charm was rated #63 on Blood-Horse magazine’s list of the Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century. He was also inducted into the United States Racing Hall of Fame in 2007.


In 2008, Zenyatta competed in the Clement L. Hirsch Handicap at Del Mar. She trailed behind a solid early pace and trailed by eleven lengths after half a mile. However, she started gaining distance at the far turn and took the lead in the last sixteenth of a mile, winning by a length. Zenyatta set a new track record for 1+1⁄16  miles in 1:41.48.

While Zenyatta followed the pack as usual in the 2009 season of the same race, maintaining within close reach of her primary opponent, Life is Sweet, and the leaders were waltzing along at a slow pace. As they approached the finish line, Zenyatta had a lot of distance to make up, but with her jockey, Smith, Zenyatta came up in the final stride to win by a head.

Zenyatta won the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes for the third time in a row in 2010. In addition, she won the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Distaff and 19 of her 20 races. She was named American Horse of the Year in 2010 and Champion Older Female in 2008, 2009, and 2010. In 2016, she was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.


Figonero was a Thoroughbred racehorse probably most famous for winning the 1969 Del Mar Handicap at Del Mar Racetrack when he established a world record for 1⅛ miles in 1969.

The three-year-old Figonero won the Gran Premio San Isidro in October 1968 at the Hipódromo de San Isidro in San Isidro, Buenos Aires. Clement L. Hirsch, co-founder and owner of California’s Oak Tree Racing Association, bought him from his Argentine owners in 1969.

The horse had an instant winning debut for his new American trainer, Warren Stute, in the renowned Hollywood Gold Cup.  He was raced to victory by Alvaro Pineda, the same jockey that rode Figonero to his world record victory the following year.


In 1982, Landaluce won the Del Mar Debutante with trainer D. Wayne Lukas and was declared a 2-year-old filly champion. She then raced at Santa Anita Park for the seven-furlong Grade II Anoakia Stakes, which she ended up winning by eight lengths.

Her latest race was the one-and-one-sixteenth-mile Grade I Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita was her last victory in her career.

Roving Boy

Roving Boy was a champion Thoroughbred racehorse in America from 1980 to 1983. Roving Boy was a descendant of Man o’ War on his sire’s side and was trained and raced by Robert E. Hibbert.

He won four major West Coast races, including the Grade I Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita Park and the Del Mar and Hollywood Futurities. His feats in 1982 won him the honor of Roving Boy U.S. Champion Two-Year-Old Colt.

Final Thoughts

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, which first opened its doors in 1937, has featured the best actions of the favorite heroes in the nation’s horse racing scene. No wonder it’s among the most prominent horse racing venues in America.