Don your most over-the-top hats and prepare to see and be seen at San Diego County’s Del Mar Racetrack this summer. The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s racing season got off to a galloping start on July 17 and hopes to keep its stride through the September 4 finale. The 2013 lineup is rife with heart-pounding races, glitzy social scenes and more. Here’s a guide to get you in the saddle for the haute horse-racing season.
What to See and Do
More than 45,000 dedicated race fans, glamorous socialites and fun-loving partygoers came to Del Mar to participate in the opening day fête. If you missed it, there is still a host of other activities all summer long. The one racing event that’s a must is the $1 Million TVG Pacific Classic on August 25, which draw’s the country’s best jockeys and horses. July 24 marks the first Free and Easy Wednesday of the season. The weekly promotion gives you complimentary Stretch Run admission and seat cushions along with half-priced beer and other concessions.
In addition to the thrilling races, the track offers a lineup of other entertainment. Brew connoisseurs will want to hit the Del Mar Racetrack Beer Fest on July 27. The event features 100 craft brews, including a host of local suds such as AleSmith and Karl Strauss. Foodies will want to wait for August 17’s Del Mar Grill Fest. At the new competition, more than 30 barbecue teams, eateries and caterers will serve up spice-rubbed meat, flame-kissed seafood and coal-charred desserts. Or try the gourmet food-truck gathering featuring fare from Bakery Truck, Big Snaps BBQ, The Lime Truck and many more on August 3.
Be sure to check out the Summer Concert Series on the Seaside Stage every weekend. Rock legend Sammy Hagar (July 27), Steel Pulse (August 16), Weezer (August 17) and Ziggy Marley (August 31) are just a few of the acts that will perform.
How to Bet
With a swoon-worthy location saddled between surf and turf, the Del Mar Racetrack is one of the most beautiful racing venues in the country. But the reason to visit is to bet on the horses. Whether you gamble $2 or $2,000, you can do so in the same fashion that co-founder Bing Crosby envisioned when the place opened back in 1937. Pony up on the charger of your choice and place your wager by hunch, horse’s name or printed tip sheets purchased onsite. Are you a race novice? Learn about the odds, easy handicapping methods, money management and insider racing tips at the newcomer seminars held one hour before the first race of each day. The free forums happen at the Plaza de Mexico near the Stretch Run admission gates. Del Mar races take place Wednesday through Sunday, with post time for the first race on most days at 2 p.m. On Fridays, first post changes to 4 p.m.
Where to Stay
To take it all in, book a room close to the action. The Lodge at Torrey Pines in neighboring La Jolla is only five miles from the track. Bonus: You can squeeze in a round of golf on the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel’s Torrey Pines Golf Course. Or try Five-Star The Grand Del Mar, which sits seven miles away. If a day at the races makes you want to go horseback riding, head to the hotel’s equestrian center. Another solid option is the newly renovated Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa. Six miles from the track, it’s a popular spot for diehard race fans to stay for the season. Thanks to the resort’s complimentary test-drive program, you can hop into one of three new Porsches (911 convertible, Cayenne GTS and Panamera Hybrid) and arrive to the racetrack with panache.
Photos Courtesy of Del Mar Racetrack