Breeders’ Cup Festival offers a variety of unique events

The Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships isn’t just a two-day showcase of the top thoroughbred racehorses in training.

It has evolved to include a weeklong series of events that highlight the best of the host site’s offerings, and this year’s Breeders’ Cup Festival at Del Mar is the biggest one yet.

“We want to show people what makes San Diego unique and entertain them,” said Craig Dado, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

About 25 events are planned in Del Mar and nearby locations, kicking off with Jake’s 35th Annual Beach Fun Run and Breeders’ Cup Breeze Presented by San Diego Surf Cup on Oct. 28. The 3.2-mile race in the sand will end with a party at Jake’s Del Mar, where there will be live music, Polynesian entertainment, food and beverages, and a raffle that benefits local charities.

“We’re hoping to get a nice mix of locals and Breeders’ Cup folks,” Dado said.

Many of the Breeders’ Cup Festival activities will be based at Barn at the Beach, a 7,000-square-foot luxury tent set up on the grass in Powerhouse Park that will accommodate 500 people. Among the events scheduled are Best at the Barn on Nov. 2, a tasting event hosted by the Del Mar Village Association that will feature some of the top chefs in San Diego County; Bash at the Beach on Nov. 3, a party after the races that benefits Thoroughbred Charities of America; and the Breeders’ Cup Viewing Party on Nov. 4, with post-race entertainment.

On Nov. 1, retired sportscaster Dick Enberg, a La Jolla resident who hosted the first seven Breeders’ Cups on NBC, will be honored with the Racing Excellence Award at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar. Jockeys Gary Stevens and Chris McCarron will be among the speakers, along with former basketball star Bill Walton and former San Diego State University basketball coach Steve Fisher. The gala will benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito.

It’s a “lifetime achievement award with a Breeders’ Cup flair,” Dado noted.

Additional highlights during the festival include:

Ponies & Poker (Oct. 31-Nov. 2): Amateur and professional poker players, along with racing fans, athletes and celebrities, will gather at Ocean’s Eleven Casino in Oceanside for a Texas Hold ‘Em-style tournament and a chance to win $100,000.

Breeders’ Cup Belly-Up Concert Series (Nov. 1-4): Performances by Bret Michaels of Poison, the B-52s and ’80s cover band Tainted Love with DJ Scotto are slated.

La Jolla Art Walk (Nov. 3): Guests can meander through galleries on a self-guided walking tour through the Village.

Art of the Horse (Through Nov. 4): Twenty life-size, fiberglass horse statues created by local artists are displayed throughout San Diego.

For more information about these and other events, go to