A horse groomer walks a horse after putting water on it at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on July 29, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler
A horse groomer walks a horse after putting water on it at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on July 29, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

The horse racing industry has been an iconic sport for centuries. In Del Mar, horse racing yields millions of dollars every season, drawing hundreds of thousands of fans to experience the excitement firsthand. 

Behind every successful racing season are the backstretch workers.

The Del Mar Racetrack’s backstretch workers are the men and women responsible for taking care of up to 2,000 Thoroughbreds. These are the grooms, hot walkers, exercise riders, pony riders and assistant trainers who make it all possible, but often remain unknown to the fans.

About 950 workers live and work on the backstretch of the Del Mar Fairgrounds every summer and fall. Most of them are immigrants and Spanish speakers who grew up with horses.

On the backstretch, they receive free housing, affordable benefits, an opportunity to do what they love and a sense of community.

The work can be challenging – long hours, tiring work and a lifestyle that requires them to travel a lot, often without their families, but the community they have created together and the passion they have for what they do have kept many of them coming back year after year.

We talked to a few of Del Mar’s backstretch workers for a look into what life on the backstretch is really like.

Read the full story here.

Politics Report: Donation Drama Déjà vu

Pechanga Arena / Photo by Megan Wood

A developer’s $100,000 donation to a committee supporting Todd Gloria’s run for mayor in 2020 is drawing scrutiny again, but this time for the big win the developer collected years later.

La Prensa reported the donation as part of a critical piece on Gloria’s support for the team developer Brad Termini is leading to redevelop the city’s nearly 50 acres of land at the Sports Arena site. Termini is CEO of Zephyr, the firm that, along with Chelsea Investments and other partners are now one step away from an exclusive negotiating agreement with the city to build on the land for what could be several decades.

In the latest Politics Report, Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts get into the history of that donation and explain why this isn’t the first time it’s drawing controversy.

Read the Politics Report here. The newsletter is exclusively for VOSD members.

Ridin’ the (Audio) Waves

Last week, an unprecedented heat wave smothered fans and players during San Diego State University’s first game of the season, christening its new stadium in sweat. Many succumbed to heat-related illness.

This comes on the heels of SDSU’s nationwide coverage for its response to an alleged gang rape by its football players last Halloween.

In our latest podcast, our editors discussed SDSU’s recent slate of news-making stories, including its plan to open a satellite location in Chula Vista.

Also: San Diego Unified School board breakdown. And the latest on the Sports Arena redevelopment. 

Listen to the full episode here. Subscribe everywhere.

In Other News 

  • KPBS reports that a nursing home in El Cajon is continuing to operate despite three sexual assault complaints this years. The facility, Avocado Post Acute nursing home, has had a long history of complaints related to neglect, abuse, assault and more. State and federal agencies have issued fines, yet the facility remains open.
  • KPBS reports that city fire officials and San Diego State representatives are in disagreement about the medical plan in place the day of the university’s first football game. That day, the scorching heat forced many fans out of the stands and into shaded areas.
  • A new homeless shelter opens today in the Midway District neighborhood. The shelter can accommodate up to 150 people. (Times of San Diego)

The Morning Report was written by Tigist Layne, Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Nate John.

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