"I didn't," Harper says, laughing. "That didn't seem to be in our best interests."
By 1969, Oak Tree was running in Los Angeles and Del Mar could settle into its summer of sun and success. Now, Harper takes on the new fall meeting with realism and enthusiasm.
"It won't be what we do now," he says, "but if we do half of our normal business, it will be more than Hollywood Park was doing."
Then there is the opportunity. Del Mar has never had a Breeders' Cup. It wants one.
"Badly," Harper says. "We are bullish."
It has applied for the 2015 event. So has Santa Anita, which would make it four years in a row there. There is a flex week in the current conditional 2015 race schedule that allows the California Horse Racing Board to leave Santa Anita open a week longer or open Del Mar a week earlier to facilitate the Breeders' Cup. Also, Del Mar is removing the previous stumbling block to Breeders' Cup bids by redoing its grass track so it will be wide enough to run a 14-horse field. Now, its maximum is 10.
"The grass is being grown now in the Coachella Valley," Harper says.
He also says that research on past Breeders' Cup days shows that the average temperature at Del Mar was 73 degrees and the average rainfall was 0.1 of an inch.
And so, the campaign has begun.
"We have a great spot," Harper says. "When you land at LAX for a Breeders' Cup, you won't see a lot of posters about that. Here, you will. San Diego is a market just large enough to support you and just small enough to still notice you."
The CHRB is expected to shed the "conditional" label soon and make the 2014 and '15 calendars official. The holdup is filling the stabling shortage left by Hollywood Park's closure.
Eventually, the Breeders' Cup will weigh in on 2015.
Much remains to be settled, but Harper, an old hand at this, expects to be catching some new waves soon.