The Del Mar racing season kicks off in July, where fans flock to the track to wager on their favorite horses. But living the nostalgia of this longtime racing tradition isn’t the only reason to head to the fairgrounds this summer.
Big hats, big betting, and big parties. Welcome to Del Mar Race Track, the famous one-mile oval located a stone’s throw from San Diego and surrounded by the blue stretches of the Pacific Ocean and the San Dieguito Lagoon. Founded in 1937 and put on the map by Bing Crosby, one of the founding members, the Del Mar Race Track is the second largest horse racing venue in the western United States, showcasing top-notch Thoroughbred racing from July through September. And as iconic as the races are, they’re just the start of what attracts thousands to explore the 370-acre property. As the track gears up for its 80th summer racing season in 2019, here are some of the best events, including the oh-so-popular free Friday and select-Saturday concert series, to look forward to.
Opening Day for Racing Season
The horses aren’t the only ones waiting anxiously for racing season to start. Each year, the Opening Day Party, presented by Coors Light, attracts the area’s glitterati, so grab your most extravagant hat and dress to impress because your ticket is an all-access pass to the exclusive event of the year, complete with world-class deejays, a full bar, photo booths, and private wagering. And after the last horse crosses the finish line for the day, The After Pony Party allows you to rub elbows with the jockeys, trainers, and breeders, while taking in all-you-can-eat tasting stations, full-service bars, and private cabanas.
Burgers & Brews
Now in its second year, this delicious day brings the top burger joints across San Diego to the racetrack to serve up samples of their most popular and most creative offerings beside endless tasters of award-winning beers from over 57 breweries from California and beyond. Along with food, you get access to a private viewing area for the race followed by the first night of the adults-only Del Mar Concert Series.
Del Mar Race Track Summer Concert Series
Select dates from Saturday, July 20 to Monday, September 2
The fun doesn’t end when the races conclude. Once the last horse crosses the finish line, around approximately 4 p.m., the racetrack transforms into a concert venue, known as The Seaside Stage, for standing-room-only shows that are 18-plus. Past musical artists and bands have included Psychedelic Furs, Steve Aoki, Weezer, and Ludacris; this year, expect a unique mix of two main genres – reggae and country – from Ziggy Marley and Iration to Wayward Sons.
Every Saturday and Sunday, starting July 21
Racing doesn’t have to be an adults-only event. Each weekend the infield transforms into an oasis for children and the young at heart. You can expect pony rides, obstacle courses, a game zone, an inflatable slide, and face painters all there to keep the kids entertained while you watch the races from the perfect vantage point. These weekends kick off on July 21st with additional activities like rock climbing walls, a bungee trampoline, and a mascot meet and greet.
Uncorked Wine Fest
Uncorked’s traveling wine festival is coming back to Del Mar, bringing over 150 wines from across the globe. Along with endless wine tasting, you can expect dishes from the area’s favorite food trucks like Z’s Buddies Sushi and Got Paella. Watch the race in comfort from your infield viewing area complete with lawn games and a live deejay followed by Midland performing their particular brand of country that’s reminiscent of artists like Hank Williams and Kitty Wells.
Daybreak at Del Mar
Every Saturday and Sunday
For the past 19 years, racing broadcaster and horsewoman Michelle Yu brings guests onto the track well before the action begins to view the morning workouts, followed by breakfast with the thoroughbreds at the open-air Clubhouse Terrace. Breakfast and freshly juiced mimosas are served as the horses continue their morning drills and warm-ups in preparation for the day’s races.