Del Mar racing returns to surf the holy turf

Del Mar Paddock/Ben Sever

Will you be one of the more than 40,000 fans expected for opening day at the Del Mar racetrack?  The seven-week meet kicks off with Opening Day on Wednesday, July 19, and the action continues through to Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 4.

The long-standing summer tradition in San Diego has the reputation as one of the area’s must-see festivities, whether you’re a Thoroughbred racing aficionado or just a people watcher. Opening Day Hats Contest brings out the fashion-forward who strut their most extravagant attire for the big day. Racing fans will enjoy seeing many of the nation’s top horses, trainers and jockeys in action.

In the time between races of Del Mar‘s opening day card July 19, fans and horsemen figure to give some thought to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be contested at the seaside Southern California track this fall.

But front and center is the prestigious summer meet, which will feature 36 race dates from Wednesday through Labor Day, Sept. 4. Del Mar will offer Wednesday through Sunday racing throughout the meet, with a bonus Labor Day Monday.

To get things started July 19, a 10-race card will feature the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes for 3-year-olds. The one-mile turf event attracted an overflow field of 16, with two of those entries currently on the also-eligible list.

Trainer Peter Miller, who finished second in wins to trainer Phil D’Amato at last year’s Del Mar summer meeting, has entered three horses in the Oceanside who each reached the wire first in their previous start.

Drawing the rail was Rockingham Ranch’s Arms Runner, who improved to 2 for 2 when he captured the Desert Code Stakes May 13. The son of Overdriven   registereded both of his wins racing on the Santa Anita Park hillside course.

Miller will also send out Sinnott Family Trust’s Vending Machine, who finished first in a June 9 allowance-optional claiming race on Santa Anita’s hillside course but was placed fourth for interference. The son of Hard Spun   earned a grade 3 placing last year and closed out his juvenile season with a victory in the Eddie Logan Stakes on the turf at Santa Anita at the Oceanside distance.

Rounding out the Miller trio is Rockingham Ranch’s Allaboutmike, who has won two consecutive races on the downhill course—a maiden-claiming race and a starter-allowance—and will make his stakes debut Wednesday.

Del Mar drew its first two cards with 107 entered Wednesday and another 74 entered in Thursday’s eight races, equating to just more than 10 horses per race. That average includes horses on the also-eligible list.

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club/Ben Sever

Last year Del Mar averaged 8.31 starters per race, which was down slightly from the 8.79 average for 2015. Del Mar offered 347 races in 2016 and 354 in 2015.

Last year total purses at Del Mar declined 9.7% to $22,007,677. Average purses per race were off 7.9% to $63,423.

The meet will mark the debut of a modified main track, changes put in place under new director of track maintenance Dennis Moore. The changes aim to replicate the banking and grading of its sister track to the north, Santa Anita.

“Our priority, of course, is safety,” said Del Mar president and CEO Joe Harper in March. “One of the key elements in safety is consistency and this adjustment will give our horses and horsemen that consistency when it comes to the two main racing surfaces on our circuit. Once again we salute the folks at Santa Anita for working with us on this.”

Besides changes to the main track, this year’s meet will feature the addition of a new 21-foot-high, 35-foot-wide video board in the track’s infield. The board provides approximately 735 square feet of imagery with the capability to show not only a full-screen presentation, but also multiple images at once in various zones on the board.

“Our fans are going to really appreciate this new look,” said Del Mar COO Josh Rubinstein. “You’ll see a race unfold in extra sharp images even in the bright sunshine we’re used to here at Del Mar. This is an upgrade that will make a day at the races all the better.”

The Breeders’ Cup World Championships, set for the Bing Crosby meeting at Del Mar, will feature total purses and awards of more than $29 million, including a robust undercard of supporting races. That meet opens Wednesday, Nov. 1.

Del Mar Paddock: another view/Courtesy


·Saturday, July 29 and Saturday, Aug. 12: Donuts Day at Del Mar is the time children can enjoy free donuts, juice and the chance to get an up close look at the Thoroughbreds as they complete their morning workouts.

Sunday, Aug. 6: Del Mar’s Supersized Family Fun Day and Webkinz Horse Giveaway offers lots of activities for little ones.

Exactly one month from Opening Day, Del Mar presents its premier race of the summer, the $1-million TVG Pacific Classic, on Saturday, Aug. 19. The mile and a quarter, Grade I testing is considered one of the foremost racing prizes in the west, and attracts some of the best horses in the country. Arrogate, winner of the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic, is a likely candidate to run the Pacific Classic.

Summer racing takes place Wednesday through Sunday, with the one exception of Closing Day on Labor Day Monday, Sept. 4. First post is at 2 p.m., except Fridays, which are at 4 p.m. First post on Aug. 25 and Sept. 1 is slated for 3:30 p.m.

For more information, call 858-755-1141 or visit


2017 Season Info At-A-Glance

 View Turf Times

Wednesday, July 19 – Monday, September 4, 2017. (view calendar)
  • Opening Day July 19
  • Pacific Classic Day August 19
2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar, CA 92014 OR MAILING ADDRESS DMTC, P.O. Box 700, Del Mar, CA 92014
Post Times
First post daily 2 PM, 4 PM Fridays except 3:30 PM Aug 25 & Sept 1.
Gates Open
Two hours before first post.
 Buy Online
  •     Opening Day $15-$30
  •     Racedays $6-$10
  • Season Passes$25-$50
    available until July 7, valid Summer & Fall
    admission not included
    all day seating for up to four, admission not included
  •     Opening Day $300-$350
  •     Pacific Classic $125-$175
  •     Friday + Saturday $100-$150
  •     Sunday + Labor Day $80-$125
  •     Wednesday + Thursday $50-$75
Contact us for groups of 20 or more online or 858-792-4234
  • General & Early Bird $10
  • Preferred Parking $15
  • Valet Parking $25 ($40 Opening Day)
  • Limo & Bus Parking (charter or scheduled) $20 ($100 Opening Day)
Tickets go on sale online 10 a.m. Friday May 12th and by phone 9 a.m. Monday May 15th.
During the racing season: Hours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.
Phone: 858-792-4242. (Toll free number: 877-LETSBET)
Diamond Club
 More Info
Diamond Club members gain access to exclusive giveaways and unlock everyday discounts at the track including on Opening Day!
According to law, persons 17 years of age and under are permitted on the grounds only when accompanied by a parent or guardian. Children 17 and under are admitted FREE. Must be 18 or over to wager or attend concerts. Alcohol is served only to those 21 and over.
Active duty military personnel and their dependents admitted to Stretch Run for free every day with appropriate military I.D. (Please show your I.D. at Stretch Run gates.)
Turf Club
 More Info
This is a private club open to members only. The dress code is enforced and guests must be accompanied by a member. Reservations are required.
Early Bird Wagering
9 a.m.–10 a.m. each racing day (on-track only).
9 a.m.–1 p.m. Fridays (on-track only).
Daily Programs
 View / Print
Daily programs are included with admission. Additional or early programs are $2 when available.
Camp Del Mar
 More Info

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