Del Mar racetrack the place to be on Opening Day

By Kelley Carlson


There’s a big party planned for July 20, and everyone is invited.

It’s Opening Day at the Del Mar racetrack, a major event on the national thoroughbred racing scene that typically draws crowds of 40,000-plus each year. There’s plenty of pageantry, with jockeys in their brightly colored silks and people donning headgear ranging from elegant to crazy.

“It’s a great people show, absolutely the hottest ticket in town,” said Mac McBride, director of media for the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

One of the highlights is the “One and Only Truly Fabulous Hats Contest,” which draws entries from men and women. Winners are chosen in each of four categories: Most Glamorous, Best Racing Theme, Funniest/Most Outrageous and Best Flowers/All Others. First place receives $300, while $200 is awarded to second and $100 for third. A grand-prize winner is chosen from among the four categories, and that contestant will win two flight vouchers redeemable for any American Airlines destination in the continental United States. Also, the first-place winner in the Most Glamourous category will receive a dual chain 24-karat gold-plated necklace from The Diamond Boutique.

Entries will be taken from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Plaza de Mexico near the fountain. A parade of hats follows at 3 p.m., and track announcer Trevor Denman will announce the finalists between 4:15 and 4:30 p.m. The awards presentation will be made in the winner’s circle between 5 and 5:30 p.m.

Adding to the festive atmosphere will be the Coors Light VIP Opening Day Party. For $30, guests receive Clubhouse Admission and access to the tented “Coors Light Trackside Pavilion” on the west end of the track. Popular local reggae band Common Sense will provide entertainment. Tickets are on sale at (858) 792-4242 or

Singing the national anthem, at 1:05 p.m., is 17-year-old Andrea Rosario, who performed the piece at last year’s Pacific Classic Day.

Other activities planned include the Hippity-Hop Derby for children, after the sixth race, which features Camp Del Mar participants bouncing down the stretch on large balls; and Sing with Bing (Crosby), when special guests belt out “Where the Turf Meets the Surf” in the winner’s circle after the seventh race.

And, of course, there are the horses. The feature will be the Oceanside Stakes, a one-mile turf event for 3-year-olds, to be run as the eighth race on the card.



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