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And They're Off! It's Time For Horse Racing at Del Mar

The 2012 season of Del Mar racing is where the turf meets the surf.

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And They're Off! It's Time For Horse Racing at Del Mar
Courtesy of DMTC
For me, there are a handful of things that serve as sort of benchmarks for a San Diego summer outdoors: baseball gets into full swing at the beginning of summer, then the outdoor concert season around the county gets cooking, followed by the San Diego County Fair's rite of summer. But there's one more annual event that takes place and we ride it right around the turn and down the homestretch of summer -- the Del Mar Thoroughbred racing season.

Yep, it's time to whip out the Daily Racing Form, dust off the binoculars, hit the ATM, and pray to the racing gods -- Del Mar is back for another season. Co-founded by Hollywood legend Bing Crosby and Pat O'Brien, Del Mar is "where the turf meets the surf," as fine a horse racing atmosphere as you'll ever find anywhere.

The annual beach party known as the 2012 Del Mar Thoroughbred racing season parades to the post once again beginning Wednesday, July 18. The season extends through Wednesday, September 5, with a five-day-a-week schedule, Monday and Tuesday being each week's day of rest.

Del Mar’s Opening Day celebration (which has come to be known as the biggest party on the west coast) is expected to draw more than 40,000 celebrities, socialites and fun-seekers to the track to kick-off another historic year. The “One and Only Truly Fabulous Hats Contest” will continue the eye-catching tradition of glamorous, comedic and shockingly beautiful hats on the first day of racing. But it's only one of many special events planned for the season.

The track celebrates its 75-year anniversary on Saturday, July 21 with gifts for all in attendance. Every 75th person through the gates will receive a $75 voucher to spend at the track, and everyone will receive two passes for a return trip to Del Mar. Fans also will be able to purchase a signed copy of “Del Mar at 75” – a gorgeous coffee table book of photography chronicling the history of the famed track.

Besides world-class Thoroughbred racing, Del Mar is known for its incredible lineup of summer entertainment. This season the track again will welcome big name performers to the Seaside Stage for its Summer Concert Series. Race-goers can enjoy free shows from a lineup of performers including Ben Harper, Cake and Ziggy Marley, as well as this year’s special Latin concert with Los Tucanes de Tijuana on Sunday, July 29.

The first-ever Del Mar Paddock Sale will take place Sunday, July 22 right after the races. The auction of ready-to-run Thoroughbreds will include a festive Paddock party rivaling some of Del Mar’s most exciting celebrations. The paddock sale will be newcomer friendly and includes a seminar for first-time owners that morning.

Also new to Del Mar this season: A barbecue competition (date to be announced); and the grand opening of 17 Hands – a new craft beer and gourmet tacos restaurant. The 2012 season event calendar also will feature fan favorites such as the Miss Cougar Del Mar Contest (July 27), Gourmet Food Truck Festival (July 28), several microbrew festivals and the annual Reggae Concert and Beer Fest (Sept. 1).

The track’s Family Fun Day will take place Sunday, July 22, but families can get their share of the action and enjoy kid-friendly activities every Saturday and Sunday throughout the meet. Dog lovers can cheer on the fastest dachshunds in San Diego between races during the Wiener Dog Nationals – a perennial family favorite at Del Mar on Labor Day, Sept. 3.

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