Guests can bet on the ponies and enjoy trackside dining. Courtesy photo.

By Bart Grundig

The famed Del Mar Racetrack celebrates its 80th birthday this year, with thoroughbred racing returning for another season at the celebrated track, built by Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante and other members of Hollywood’s elite.

The track – known as the place “where the turf meets the surf” – welcomes another seven-week meet on Wednesday, July 19. The season, and the horses, run through Labor Day, Monday, September 4.

The horses, along with concerts and other special events, will bring thousands of locals and vacationers to the famous seaside track for what organizers say is an “unparalleled summer scene of big bets and even bigger hats, ice-cold cocktails and elite entertainment.”

More than 40,000 fans are expected for Opening Day at Del Mar, a longstanding summer tradition in San Diego. The famous Opening Day Hats Contest will turn heads, as many fashion-forward trendsetters will strut their finest and most extravagant attire for the big day.

The excitement will continue throughout the season with free concerts from some of the nation’s most popular musicians, festivals featuring locally crafted cuisine and award-winning beers for which San Diego is known, along with many of the nation’s top horses, trainers and jockeys.

Del Mar’s Summer Concert Series gives music fans the chance to catch a free show every Friday and select Saturdays and Sundays throughout the season. This year’s lineup features an impressive array of talent, including long-time hip hop star Ludacris on Saturday, August 12; one of America’s favorite alternative bands, Violent Femmes, on Friday, July 28; indie rockers Lord Huron on Friday, August 25; and The Revivalists on Friday, September 1. The complete lineup:

  • Friday, July 21 – Tribal Seeds
  • Friday, July 28 – Violent Femmes
  • Friday, August 4 – Eagles of Death Metal
  • Saturday, August 5 – Country Fest starring Billy Currington
  • Friday, August 11 – Special Guest
  • Saturday, August 12 – Ludacris
  • Friday, August 18 – Steel Pulse
  • Friday, August 25 – Lord Huron
  • Saturday, August 26 – Slightly Stoopid
  • Friday, September 1 – The Revivalists
  • Sunday, September 3 – Steve Aoki

All performances will take place in the seaside concert area, located at the west end of the grandstand. Performances begin shortly after the last race of the day and are presented by Coors Light. All concerts are 18 and up and free with the purchase of standard $6 racetrack admission. For concertgoers entering after the day’s final race admission is $20.

Del Mar also brings together the best of San Diego’s burgeoning culinary and craft beer scenes.

Craft beer enthusiasts will enjoy two of the best food combinations in the world at Del Mar’s Burgers and Brews event on Saturday, August 12 and Del Mar’s Craft Beer and Pizza Festival on Saturday, August 26. Back again to dish out the best SoCal bites on four-wheels is Del Mar’s Food Truck Festival on Saturday, July 29. Country fans shouldn’t miss “Country Fest,” which includes Del Mar’s famous Chili Cookoff and a concert featuring country-star Billy Currington on Saturday, August 5. Then, barbecue lovers can taste dozens of smoked meats at Del Mar’s BBQ State Championship on Sunday, August 20. Closing weekend will be highlighted by the second Tacotopia at the Track, when 40 of San Diego, Los Angeles and Tijuana’s top restaurants and food trucks compete for the region’s “Best Taco” title on Sunday, September 3.

Several days are set aside for family fun, including Del Mar’s Supersized Family Fun Day and Webkinz Horse Giveaway on Sunday, August 6, where guests may enjoy an abundance of engaging activities for the little ones. Also, children can enjoy a morning of free donuts, juice and the chance to get an up-close look at the thoroughbreds as they complete their morning workouts during Donuts Day at Del Mar on Saturday, July 29 and Saturday, August 12.

Exactly one month from Opening Day, Del Mar will present its premier race of the summer, the $1-million TVG Pacific Classic on Saturday, August 19. The mile-and-a-quarter Grade I testing is one of the West’s foremost prizes and is expected to attract several of the best horses in the country. Arrogate, considered by many currently to be the best horse in the world and the winner of the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic, is a likely candidate for the Pacific Classic.

Summer racing at Del Mar takes place Wednesday through Sunday with the one exception of Closing Day on Labor Day (Monday, September 4). The first post daily will be at 2 p.m. The first post on Fridays will be at 4 p.m., with the exception of August 25 and September 1, when the first post is at 3:30 p.m. For more information, call 858-755-1141 or visit www.DelMarRacing.com.

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