Breeder’s Cup brings racing’s best to town

Del Mar Paddock/Ben Sever

For the first time ever, the world-famous Breeder’s Cup graces the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club where, of course, the surf, as always, meets the hallowed turf.

Located in the Southern California sweet spot that is the beach town of Del Mar, the historic racetrack known as Del Mar sits astride the Pacific Ocean where the dancing summer sea breezes and the sparkling sun make it everyone’s favorite place to go racing.

Now Del Mar will get to serve for the first time as home for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will present its 34th edition on November 3 and 4, 2017. The showcase that is Del Mar and the showcase that is the Breeders’ Cup – both offering terrific racing, parties and events galore – seem a natural together. 2017 will be a first, but it could be the first of many.

Twenty miles north of San Diego and 100 miles south of Los Angeles has proven just about right for the horse course founded by the show business icon Bing Crosby, who brought along all his Hollywood pals to “race all day and party all night” at a place “where the turf meets the surf.” Crosby even arranged a Del Mar match race with America’s favorite racehorse, Seabiscuit, and the South American champion Ligaroti, then broadcast it coast to coast on the country’s No. 1 radio show – his own on NBC. “The Biscuit” wound up winning a hellacious battle by a nose in “the race that put Del Mar on the map.”

Down through the years the track has proven to be a launching pad of champions. For testimony, look no further than the last three winners of the Kentucky Derby (California Chrome, American Pharoah and Nyquist among a dozen others): they each used the Del Mar Futurity as a kickoff to the Roses and stardom. The $1-million Pacific Classic – Del Mar’s showcase race – has evolved into one of racing’s grand jewels pitting champion against champion.

The Breeders’ Cup may feature only two days of horse racing, but North County is celebrating with a variety of happenings the week before the 34th annual event makes its debut at the Del Mar Racetrack.

Designed to showcase the best of San Diego’s local culture, the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Festival kicks off Oct. 28 with the Jake’s Del Mar 35th Annual Beach Fun Run and Breeders’ Cup Breeze. The 3.2-mile beach race begins at 9:30 a.m., ending with a party on the sand in front of the oceanfront restaurant. 

Barn at the Beach

Not far from the Del Mar Racetrack, on the grass at Powerhouse Park, is a 7,000-square-foot temporary tent, being called the “Barn at the Beach,” that will be home to the following events.

Del Mar Schools Education Foundation Celebration — Oct. 29

A luncheon will feature acts by Del Mar students and an evening reception will include live musical entertainment, a plated dinner and a cash bar.

Rood & Riddle Breeders’ Cup Post-Position Draw — Oct. 30

Attendees at this event, named for the equine hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, will watch as the starting gate positions, or numbers, are determined for each horse in the 13 Breeders’ Cup races.

Bourbon, Blue Grass & Breeders’ Cup — Nov. 1

The Del Mar Foundation will host this community party with live music and bourbon and whiskey tastings.

Best at the Barn — Nov. 2

This upscale tasting event from the Del Mar Village Association will bring together some of the county’s top chefs, specialty cocktails and live entertainment.

Bash at the Beach — Nov. 3

After the first full day of championship races, fans can enjoy a cocktail, take in the sunset, listen to the music of Haute Chile and participate in a live auction of racing memorabilia while raising funds to benefit Thoroughbred Charities of America.

Viewing Party — Nov. 4

Fans can watch the final day of racing. Elsewhere in the beach city, well-known jockeys and racing personalities will craft cocktails during Jocktails at the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar Plaza on Nov. 1. Proceeds will benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

Tournaments are scheduled at Torrey Pines Golf Course an Oct. 31 and Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club on Nov. 2.

DMTC grandstand/Ben Sever

Other multiday activities include Ponies & Poker from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 at Ocean’s Eleven Casino in Oceanside. Amateur and professional poker players will join thoroughbred horseracing luminaries, fans, athletes and celebrities for a Texas Hold ’em-style tournament with a $100,000 prize.

In Solana Beach, Belly Up’s Breeders’ Cup four-day concert series begins Nov. 1 with Bret Michaels onstage.

Thoroughbred racing will take place Nov. 1-2 to mark the start of Del Mar Racetrack’s Bing Crosby fall meet, which resumes after the Breeders’ Cup and continues through Nov. 26.

The Racing Excellence Award will honor sportscaster Dick Enberg on Nov. 1 during a gala to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito. Enberg’s colleagues and friends, sports enthusiasts, business leaders and members of the local and national horseracing community will celebrate Del Mar’s inaugural hosting of the Breeders’ Cup at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar.

Tickets for the events are available at

For those who would like to see thoroughbred racing, limited tickets are still available.

General admission in the stretch run/grandstand is available on Nov. 3 only. Visit

Infield general admission tickets for “Taste of the Breeders’ Cup” on Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 range from $35 to $80. Go to

Infield dining seats are available in the Pacific Pavilion on Friday only for $100. Visit

Two-day dining seating in the Trackside Chalet and Seabiscuit Sky Room, overlooking the racetrack and Pacific Ocean, are $1,600 at or 

Del Mar parking and transport/DMTC

Onsite parking at the racetrack is sold out. Only ticketholders with prepaid parking credentials will be allowed entry. All others will be turned away at the gates and directed to one of three park-and-ride facilities: Del Mar Horse Park, MiraCosta College in Cardiff and Kilroy Realty Parking Garage in San Diego.The latter two have a handicap accessible lot.

Ticketholders must reserve a complimentary parking pass at before the day of the event. Parking will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Park-and-ride locations open at 8:30 a.m. Friday and 7:30 a.m. Saturday. Shuttles will begin 30 minutes after the opening and run continuously both days, departing approximately every 15 minutes. The last one will leave the track at 7 p.m. both days.

Uber will be set up onsite and have designated entry and exit points off Jimmy Durante Boulevard. Local taxis, cabs and other ride-hailing services will also be able to drop off and pick up guests at the track.

On Nov. 3, gates open at Del Mar at 9 a.m. The first post is 11:25 a.m. Last post is 5:17 p.m. Gates open the following day at 8 a.m. with the first post at 10:10 a.m. and the last at 5:35 p.m.

Del Mar Paddock: another view/Courtesy


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