Del Mar Mayor Terry Sinnott offered a tip to horse-racing aficionados at a press conference on Tuesday, Feb. 28, to announce the launch of ticket sales for the 2017 Breeders’ Cup, the world championship for the sport that will be held in November at the Del Mar racetrack.
“If you’re planning to come to the Breeders’ Cup, come early and enjoy the entire week,” taking in Del Mar’s coastline, sunshine and restaurants, said Sinnott.
The Del Mar mayor joined his San Diego counterpart, Mayor Kevin Faulconer, as well as Joe Harper, president and CEO of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, and Craig Fravel, president and CEO of the Breeders’ Cup, on an ocean-view deck at the Plaza Del Mar shopping center to kick off eight months of planning and preparation leading up to the two-day racing event on Nov. 3 and 4.
Ticket sales for the general public commence at 9 a.m. on Monday, March 6, at www.BreedersCup.com/tickets. The ticket office can be reached at 877-849-4287. Prices range from $35 for single-day infield admission, to $1,875 for a two-day package that includes meals at a sixth-floor restaurant in the racetrack grandstands.
Fravel stressed that those who want to attend the event, billed as the Super Bowl of horse racing, must decide in advance, because tickets will not be sold at the door.
“There will be no way to get to (the) Del Mar (racetrack) on Nov. 3 or 4, unless you arrange it in advance,” by purchasing tickets online, Fravel said at the news conference.
This fall marks the first time the Breeders’ Cup will be held at Del Mar in its 33-year history. The first Breeders’ Cup was held at Hollywood Park in Los Angeles in 1984.
Harper said in an interview that he was already running the Del Mar race meet when he attended the first Breeders’ Cup. “I thought, wow, we’ve got to figure out how to get this thing.”
Harper, a 40-year Del Mar resident, and his staff have been actively pursuing the Breeders’ Cup for more than a decade. In order to land the prestigious event, the 22nd District Agricultural Association, which runs the state-owned Del Mar Fairgrounds and race track, in 2014 completed a $4.5 million widening of the track’s turf course. Other upgrades, such as additional luxury suites, helped seal the deal, Harper said.
“It’s pretty easy for me to sell something like this,” Harper said at the news conference, gesturing toward the panoramic ocean view behind him. “Of all the venues the Breeders’ Cup has been to, this has to be the icing on the cake.”
Local officials hope this year’s Breeders’ Cup will be the first of many to be held at Del Mar. If the event is a success, said Harper, such a scenario is likely.
Other Breeders’ Cup venues include the Santa Anita track in L.A. and Keeneland race track in Lexington, Kentucky. Next year’s Breeders’ Cup will be held at Churchill Downs, in Louisville, Kentucky, home of the Kentucky Derby, one of horse racing’s triple crown events.
Attendance at the Del Mar Breeders’ Cup will be capped at 37,500 per day, much smaller than the crowds of more than 40,000 that attend opening day of the Del Mar summer race meet.
The Breeders’ Cup and Del Mar Thoroughbred Club are investing $4.5 million in temporary luxury seating for the event, including two trackside “chalets” each seating about 900 people. Also, 900 box seats are being added to the Clubhouse and Stretch Run areas of the track.
The infield will feature “The Beach,” a sandy area that will hold up to 250 people with casual seating, umbrellas, a video screen and private bar.
Shuttle services, as well as drop-off areas for Uber and taxis, will be available for attendees, as on-site parking will be limited to those with official parking credentials, according to event planners.
Over two days of racing, the Breeders’ Cup includes 13 races -plus an “under-card,” with purses and awards totaling $28 million.
Local officials said the event, which attracts horse racing fans from around the world, is expected to generate tens of millions of dollars in economic activity for the San Diego region.
The event will be broadcast on NBC and a week-long festival, including such events as concerts, a golf tournament and a 10k run, is also planned.
Some events are planned for a temporary tent proposed to be erected at Del Mar’s Powerhouse Park. At a Del Mar City Council meeting in December, council members supported the concept of the so-called “Barn at the Beach,” but wanted more details before giving final approval.
Sinnott said city staff is working with Breeders’ Cup officials to gather more information about the planned events, and the proposal is expected to come back before the council within a few weeks.
A mix of public and private events is planned, and Sinnott said the location of the tent at Powerhouse Park will encourage community involvement in the Breeders’ Cup,. as well as bring visitors to Del Mar.
“I think (the Breeders’ Cup) is a chance for people who aren’t familiar with Del Mar and all our assets, like the beaches and good weather, to experience Del Mar,” Sinnott said.