Fashion, food, fun: Plenty of festivities to mark Opening Day


One of San Diego County’s hottest social events is just around the corner, and Del Mar wants to make it a winning one for everyone.

While the track can’t guarantee that everyone will be financially ahead at the end of the day, it’s doing its best to ensure that everyone has a chance to look like a million bucks on Opening Day, July 16.

To help racegoers prepare for the big event, Del Mar is presenting the first Fashion Trifecta at the Track, hosted by Studio Savvy and Ranch & Coast Magazine. It’s scheduled from noon to 4 p.m. July 12 in Del Mar’s Turf Club Courtyard.

“It’s one-stop shopping for Opening Day fashion needs,” explained Chris Bahr, director of events and promotions.

Fifteen to 20 vendors will be selling hats, shoes, jewelry and clothes, and there will be a strolling fashion show, along with live music, and food and beverages. Fifteen percent of sales will go to the Helen Woodward Animal Center of Rancho Santa Fe, and admission and parking to the event are free.

The Fashion Trifecta could be the place to find the perfect headgear for the 21st annual Opening Day Hats Contest on July 16. Contestants will compete for prizes in five categories: Most Glamorous, Best Racing Theme, Funniest/Most Outrageous, Best Fascinator and Flowers/All Other. In each category, first place will win $300 and a $100 Studio Savvy gift certificate; second place will net $200; and third place will receive $100. This year’s Bing Crosby Grand Prize is a Harrah’s Resort Southern California Luxury Resort Escape, featuring a two-night stay in a luxurious hotel suite, $200 meal credit and $200 spa credit. The total value of the package is $1,300.

Sign-ups for the hats contest will be from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Plaza de Mexico, just inside the Stretch Run admission gates. There is no entry fee, and all entrants will receive two free admission passes to return to the races.

No matter how patrons are dressed, everyone is welcome to The Party, at the west end of the track. The $30 cost covers Stretch Run admission and access to The Party area, which will feature the Red Bull Tour Bus, multiple DJs, gourmet food trucks, a beer garden, private wagering, jumbo video boards, activities and prize giveaways. The experience allows for some breathing room from the crowd, which is expected to exceed 40,000 people, Bahr said.

Opening Day will mark the return of other traditional events. There will be Sing With Bing, in which a person or group croons the track’s theme song, “Where the Turf Meets the Surf,” by Bing Crosby; and the Hippity Hop Derby, in which Camp Del Mar participants bounce down the stretch on inflatable balls. Those who want a chance to serenade the crowd can email; Camp Del Mar provides activities for 5- to 12-year-olds all day, for $24 per child.

And once again, the feature race on the Opening Day card will be the $100,000 Ocean-side Stakes for 3-year-olds on the grass. It’s a key prep for the $250,000 Grade II Del Mar Derby on Sept. 6, the track’s sophomore championship.

The Opening Day festivities aren’t restricted to the seaside oval, though. Various venues in the area have additional plans, including:

• Union Kitchen & Tap: This restaurant’s pre-party starts with $3.50 Miller Lites. It continues with round-trip charter bus transportation fully stocked with mixers, Miller Lite and liquor on the way to the track; VIP entrance to the races; a ticket to Del Mar’s The Party; and access to the newly upgraded VAVi section with additional seating and an LED big screen to view the action. Tickets start at $69; 1108 S. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas;; 760-230-2337.

• Pacifica Del Mar: The $25 bar entry includes two drink tickets, re-entry throughout the night, and a live DJ from 5 to 11 p.m. The entry fee is waived with a dinner reservation; 1555 Camino del Mar, Del Mar;; 858-792-0476.

• Rancho Valencia: The resort will hold The After Pony Party in partnership with Riviera Magazine from 5 to 9 p.m. There will be signature cocktails and gourmet dishes on the greens of the Croquet Lawn, with mezcal tastings, gourmet tacos, signature sliders and a fresh oyster bar. Live music, and guests can visit the Pineapple GIF Booth or play a few rounds on the mini croquet course. Entry fee is $45; 5921 Valencia Circle, Rancho Santa Fe;; 858-756-1123.

• Searsucker Del Mar: The restaurant’s Opening Day Soiree will kick off at 5 p.m. There will be a hosted glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne, free bites curated by Executive Chef Brian Malarkey; live music sponsored by the Kaaboo Music Festival; and a local DJ. Pre-sale tickets start at $50; 12995 El Camino Real, Del Mar; HKK.SN/SearsuckerOpeningDay; 702- 906-9438 (VIP bottle service).