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The changes for the 2009 season at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club are coming fast and furious.

Track officials will go before the California Horse Racing Board next month to drop Monday racing, cutting its 43-day meet to 37 days. And on Sunday, officials said they plan to revamp their stakes schedule, including moving its two biggest races —- the $1 million Pacific Classic and Grade I Del Mar Futurity.

Del Mar intends to create a racing festival on the final weekend of its meet, Sept. 4-7, with the Pacific Classic moved back one week from its traditional spot on the racing calendar to Sept. 6 and the Futurity moved up two days from its closing-day position to Labor Day, Sept. 7.

“We felt like we could make it a helluva weekend,” track president Joe Harper said. “It will make that weekend more special for us.”

Tom Robbins, Del Mar’s vice president of racing, said the idea came from brainstorming sessions between the track’s marketing and racing offices.

“We want to go out with a bang,” Robbins said. “We’re going to have four Grade Is at the end of the meet and see how it works out.”

Del Mar will begin Labor Day weekend on Sept. 4 with the Rancho Bernardo Handicap, a sprint for older fillies and mares. That will be followed on Sept. 5 by the Grade I Debutante for 2-year-old fillies.

On Sept. 6, in addition to the Pacific Classic, Del Mar will run the Torrey Pines Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, the Grade II Pat O’Brien Handicap for sprinters at 7 furlongs and the Grade II Del Mar Derby for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on the turf course.

With the 2-year-old Futurity championship moved to Sept. 7, the closing-day feature will now be the Grade II Palomar Handicap for fillies and mares on the turf.

Additionally, Del Mar will move the San Diego Handicap —- a prep for the Pacific Classic —- from the first weekend of the meet to the second weekend and the Best Pal Stakes for 2-year-olds up one week to have more time between that race and the Futurity.

Del Mar won’t officially announce its stakes schedule until the CHRB accepts —- or rejects —- its request to drop racing days at an April 23 meeting.

Robbins said he has received varying reactions from horsemen over the proposed changes to the racing schedule.

“It just depends on the philosophy of the individual,” he said. “The majority (of the trainers) want more spacing (between races).”

Said Harper: “Every time we change anything, we’re worried about the horsemen. We think this is a good deal.”

Harper said he was concerned about a backlash from fans who have made Pacific Classic weekend a traditional getaway in August.

“That’s always a concern,” he said. “We think we have buttressed the whole (Labor Day weekend), and the Pacific Classic will still be a good day.”

Unlike in previous years, Del Mar doesn’t have a television package for this year’s Pacific Classic on ESPN, but Harper said he’s not worried about it and that the move of the premier race was never discussed in relation to television coverage.

“Television is not dictacting where we put these things,” said Harper, who last year allowed the Pacific Classic to be run at 6:45 p.m. so it could be seen in prime time on the East Coast. “You run into problems when you allow television to tell you when to run races. We’ll just do our own thing on television or not.”

Contact staff writer Jeff Nahill at jnahill@nctimes.com or (760) 740-3550.

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