Del Mar Racetrack
Southern California features two major thoroughbred racetracks during the year. Santa Anita is one, and Del Mar is the other. Del Mar could be considered a ‘boutique’ meet, similar to Saratoga in upstate New York.
Del Mar is known for the saying ‘Where the Surf meets the Turf’ because the racetrack is situated a stone’s throw away from the Pacific Ocean and is located in an area that is a significant tourist attraction for vacationers with its beaches and restaurants.
Each day before every race, when the horses enter the track for the post parade, Bing Crosby’s song, ‘Where the Surf meets the Turf,’ will play on the loudspeaker, which has been a tradition going back to the 1940s.
Del Mar Racing Season
Del Mar is known for its summer meet, which begins each year in mid-July and runs through Labor Day (early September). The races run five days weekly, except Monday and Tuesday. Horse racing at Del Mar happens Wednesday through Sunday, with post time for the first race on most days at 2:00 PM. On Fridays, the first post is 4:00 PM.
Del Mar Stake Races
Del Mar features many of the top thoroughbreds on the West Coast and will occasionally get horses from around the country shipped in for important graded stakes races. Trainer and owners wait for Del Mar to unleash their best 2-year olds. The Grade 1 Pacific Classic runs in late August each year and is the meet’s cornerstone stakes race.
It’s run at 1 ¼ mile and features the best older male runners on the west coast and several other racing venues out of state. The Pacific Classic goes a long way in determining who will be one of the major players for the Breeders Classic run in early November.
Del Mar Track History
Del Mar has a distinguished history and was opened in 1937. William Quigley opened the track with the help of Bing Crosby. They’d witnessed the success of Santa Anita racetrack, which had opened a few years earlier. On opening day, Crosby was at the gate to personally welcome all visitors to the track.
Del Mar attracted national attention for the first time in 1938 when Seabiscuit raced Ligaroti in a winner-takes-all $25,000 contest (over $450,000 in today’s money). Racing was in the public spotlight at this time, and this fascinating battle prompted significant media excitement. It also attracted 20,000 spectators to the track, with visitors left on the edge of their seats by Seabiscuit’s narrow victory.
The new turf track was rolled out at Del Mar in the early 1960s and proved to be an instant success. It allowed races of up to 1 mile 1/8th to be staged at Del Mar. The track also attempted to start a fall meet, but there was a lack of interest, which was subsequently canceled. Bing Crosby made his final visit to the track in 1977 shortly before his death.
Del Mar hosted the richest race on record at the start of the 1990s with the $1,000,000 Pacific Classic. Meanwhile, the track underwent several significant renovations with the old Grandstand being demolished to make way for an enhanced replacement. The new $80 million structure was finally unveiled in 1993.
More racing was added to the card following the closure of Hollywood Park in 2014. Three years later, Del Mar hosted the Breeders Cup for the first time.
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