Bryce Miller: In a racing first, Del Mar is feeding backstretch workers. It’s about community — and connection.

Published by
The San Diego Union-Tribune

DEL MAR, Calif. — Each day horses bolt from the starting gate at Del Mar, 61-year-old Maria Perez is there at 2:30 a.m., in the chill and dark, to clean stalls, brush horses and gather riding gear. Perez represents the track’s unrelenting best bet, one of 1,000 seasonal workers on the quiet backstretch of the facility who routinely move with the precision of an ant colony. They provide the essential steam for the summer meet’s $550 million locomotive of wagering handle and race-day revenue. For most, it’s a minimum-wage existence — as it is at tracks across the country. As daunting as survivin…

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