Racing season ready to run
By Kelley Carlson
It’s that time of year again — break out the tip sheets, dig into your pockets for some cash, hope that No. 3 will be the winner of the second race, try to look as cool as possible as you’re yelling at the top of your lungs — it’s Del Mar season.The horses will be off and running starting July 20, with live racing five days each week on average — Wednesdays through Sundays, with the exception of a Labor Day Monday card — through Sept. 7. There will be eight Grade I events, drawing some of the nation’s top thoroughbreds. The meet’s signature race, the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic (Grade I), is set for Aug. 28.
Fields could potentially be larger this season, as Del Mar has started a “Ship and Win” program that awards incentives to owners from out-of-state who start runners at the track. More horses in a race usually mean better wagering opportunities and can lead to higher purses, said Tom Robbins, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s executive vice president for racing, in a news release.
“We’re encouraged by the response we’ve gotten so far,” said Mac McBride, director of media for the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. “There’s at least a half-dozen trainers with serious strings (10-plus runners). We’re ready to rock and roll.”
There will be two new wagers during the meeting, in addition to the seaside oval’s usual types of bets. The Pick Five will involve selecting winners of the first five races, with a minimum 50-cent wager. There will also be a head-to-head bet during the featured race each Saturday; Del Mar’s racing office will select the two horses from which bettors can choose.
The track will also offer a guaranteed Pick Six carryover on Sundays with $50,000 in the pool at the start.
Concerts have a new, larger home at the far western end of the facility, known as the Seaside Stage. The 120,000-square-foot area contains foliage purchased from the “Jurassic Park” movie sets, according to McBride, and will have a large LED screen and 45 betting windows. Ziggy Marley, Jimmy Eat World and Ben Harper are just a few of the acts slated during the season.
“This is absolutely by far and away the best musical lineup we’ve ever had,” McBride said.
There is no additional charge for the concerts, which are held following the last race of the day. However, guests who arrive to the track after the final race will have to shell out $20 for admission.
Other areas around the oval that have received makeovers include the Pacific Classic Pub, formerly known as the Best Pal Pub, which includes race memorabilia and photos of all 20 winners; and the Celebrity Grill, now a gastro restaurant featuring foods such as sliders, bar snacks and specialty salads on the third floor of the clubhouse.
Traditional Del Mar events such as Donut Days (July 23 and Aug. 13), Family Weekends, “Daybreak at Del Mar” breakfasts (weekends), handicapping and newcomers seminars, Ladies Day (Aug. 7) and Party in the Paddock (Sept. 7) will once again be back. Seniors age 62 and older can enter the track for free on July 21 and Sept. 1, and can get in at no charge on all other Thursdays with the Diamond Club card. (Patrons can apply for the free cards at the track throughout the season.) Free & Easy Wednesdays — consisting of free admission, program and a seat, along with discounted food and beverages — are offered to Diamond Club card holders of all ages.
Once again, there will also be Pizza ‘N Ponies Thursdays, in which $11 will buy a Stretch Run admission and reserved seat in that area, a program, an Oggi’s personal cheese pizza and a soft drink, with upgrades available.
New this year will be the Gourmet Food Truck Festival on Aug. 20, along with a Pink Day at the Races supporting breast cancer awareness on Sept. 3.
A day at Del Mar can be fairly inexpensive and provide a good “stay-cation” option, McBride said.
“You can soak up the atmosphere and spend a day in the sun,” he said. “We’re hopeful that this will be a good season. We see positive signs.”
- Del Mar considering reducing racing days this summer
- Del Mar: Equine virus not expected to impact racing season
- Del Mar Racetrack attendance increases
- Betting on fun: Del Mar racetrack ready for start of new season
- Del Mar races open Wednesday
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