‘Bing Crosby’ season at Del Mar racetrack will begin with a patriotic celebration

The “Bing Crosby” season will kick off with a patriotic celebration on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, and will continue through Dec. 4. During those 15 racing days, there will be several musical acts, a costume contest that includes celebrity look-alikes, and much more.

For Opening Day, the seaside oval will honor the nation’s military with a “Veterans Day Salute” and other themed activities.

“We expect a real fun day,” said Chris Bahr, director of events and promotions, who noted that the Hollywood theme of the last two years was changed to correspond with the holiday.

Festivities will begin at 11 a.m. in the Seaside Concert area with the Veterans Day Salute, a fundraiser for military charities such as the American Legion San Dieguito Post 416’s Save Our Legion campaign and The Semper Fi Fund. For $25, guests receive admission to the races and a special post-race concert by country artist Coffey Anderson, a program, barbecue fare and additional activities. A VIP-level ticket is $50, which includes special area access and a barbecue upgrade; a concert-only ticket is $10. Children 12 and younger receive free entry, and food will be available for purchase. Go to delmarracing.com/vetsalute or calegionpost416.org.

Also starting at 11 a.m. is registration for the Stars & Stripes Fashion Contest in the Plaza de Mexico. Patrons have until 1:30 p.m. to enter in the categories of Most Patriotic and Best Pin-Up or Celebrity Look. The grand-prize winner will receive a one-night stay at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar and a multi-course tasting menu with wine pairings for two at Addison Restaurant, a package valued at more than $1,000. First place in each category will win $400 and a Studio Savvy gift basket valued at $250; second place will be awarded $250; and third place will net $100. All entrants will be given two free admission passes for the fall meet.

Additional events will be held in between races, including the unfurling of the 100-yard-by-50-yard U.S. Holiday Bowl flag, parachute jumpers, a ride-in by several veteran motorcycle clubs, military bands, a performance of “God Bless America,” and the traditional “Sing With Bing” before the sixth race.

The feature race on the card will be the $75,000 Kathryn Crosby Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, for older fillies and mares.

Evening stars

While the thoroughbreds will be the focus during the afternoons, a couple of concerts will garner attention after the races. Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals will entertain the crowd on Nov. 12, while Reggae Fest with Iration is slated for Nov. 19. The events are free with paid track admission, or $20 for those who arrive after the last race.

Stellar events 

Del Mar is once again planning a fall meet that is chock-full of activities, many of them returning favorites. One new event on the calendar is Tacos & Tequila on Nov. 12 in the Seaside Cabana, where people can enjoy tacos from some of the top vendors in town along with signature margaritas.

Among the familiar activities are:

College Day: On Nov. 19, students who present their ID will receive free admission and exclusive access to the college tailgate party in the Red Star Cafe.

Thanksgiving Day: People can work up an appetite early in the day by participating in the Family Mile Fun Run on Nov. 24. Registration begins at 7 a.m.; at 8 a.m., participants run a lap around the racetrack and finish in the winners circle, where they have their pictures taken. There are other activities that morning, as well, such as the Helen Woodward Puppy Race, arts and crafts booths, face painting, entertainers and games. For those who register by Nov. 18, the cost is $22 for adults, $12 for children ages 4-15, and free for kids 3 and younger. Those who wish to enjoy holiday fare during the races can partake in a three-course meal and bottomless mimosas or champagne. The $100-per-person package includes Turf Club admission and a table during the races, which begin at 11 a.m. For more information on the fun run and the meal, go to www.dmtc.com.

Craft Beer, Cider & Food Truck Festival: Two events become one this year, as more than 30 food trucks and 100 varieties of craft beers and seasonal ales and ciders will be offered from noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 26 in the Seaside Concert area. It’s $20 for five, 7-ounce beer tastings; a pre-sale package that includes five beer samples and racetrack admission is available for $20 through Nov. 13. Go to www.dmtc.com.

Giveaways: Sandals that sport a custom Del Mar Racing logo will be distributed on Nov. 19, and a fleece blanket that features a design of the paddock will be given away Dec. 3. Both are free with paid admission.

Daybreak at Del Mar: Racing fans can watch morning workouts while eating breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturdays in the Clubhouse Terrace Restaurant. Admission is free, but there is a $10 parking fee.

Taste of the Turf Club: Formerly known as Bing + Bubbles + Brunch, Chef Brian Malarkey will prepare different menus each week, composed of an appetizer, entree, dessert and bottomless mimosas or Chandon. Cost is $100 per person, which also includes seating at a Turf Club table.

“Freebies” and discounts: Every Sunday is “Free & Fun,” as Diamond Club members receive free Stretch Run admission; a free program; a free seat; and half price on domestic drafts, Bloody Marys and Champagne Splits. Seniors 62 and older receive the same freebies on Thursdays, with a valid ID. And as with past meets, there will be a “Pony Express” deal ($11 for a roundtrip Coaster ride and admission); and “30-for-20,” in which people can buy $30 of script for $20 that can be used for food and beverages at the track.

Lucky stars

This season, there will be a new twist to the Pick Six bet, which costs $2 and involves selecting the winners of the last six races of the day on the card – a not-so-easy feat.

“(The Pick Six) has been very popular over the years, and has the biggest payout,” Bahr noted.

The Pick Six now will offer a “Single Ticket Jackpot,” in which those picking all six winners will get 70 percent of the pool, but instead of the remaining 30 percent going to those with consolation tickets (five of six winners) as in the standard Pick Six, it will be split two ways. Those with consolation tickets will be paid 15 percent of the pool, while the final 15 percent will be carried forward until there is one Pick Six winning ticket, at which time that day’s total Pick Six pool – along with the complete carryover pool – will be paid to that winner.

“While the Pick Six used to be the only exotic wagering game in town, the landscape has changed and players are looking for new bet concepts,” Del Mar President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Harper said. “We believe the ‘Single Ticket Jackpot’ will reinvigorate California’s Pick Six and produce some life-changing payouts.”

To get some handicapping tips, racegoers can attend Weekend Handicapping Seminars in the Seaside Terrace; or Newcomers Seminars every race day, one hour before first post in the Plaza de Mexico.

More advanced bettors may want to test their skills in the Handicapping Challenge, set for Nov. 12-13, with $125,000 in prizes. It’s a $4,000 buy-in, with $2,500 designated for a live bankroll and $1,500 toward the prize pool. Contact Bahr at chris@dmtc.com.

“We have planned really great events that appeal to everyone (this season),” Bahr said. “We’re looking forward to having a great meet.”

IF YOU GO:

 Dates: Nov. 11-Dec. 4

 Location: Via de la Valle and Jimmy Durante Boulevard

 Post time: 12:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays; special first post at 11 a.m. Nov. 26, Thanksgiving

 Admission: $6; free for children 17 and younger

 Parking: $10 General, $20 Valet

 Information: 858-755-1141, www.dmtc.com

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