Del Mar racetrack

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Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
Del Mar Racetrack (logo).png
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club logo
Location Del Mar, California
Operated by Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
Date opened July 3, 1937
Race type Thoroughbred
Course type Turf, Dirt
Notable races Pacific Classic (G1)
Eddie Read Stakes (G1)
Del Mar Oaks (G1)
Bing Crosby Stakes (G1)
Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1)
Del Mar Debutante (G1)
Del Mar Futurity (G1)
Official website

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club racetrack is an American Thoroughbred horse racing track at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in the seaside city of Del Mar, California, 20 mi (32 km) north of San Diego. With a capacity of 44,000, it is the second largest horse-racing venue in the western United States, after the nearby Santa Anita Park.[1] The facility is owned by the State of California and leased by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, it is known for the slogans: "Where The Turf Meets The Surf" as well as "Cool as Ever."[2] It was built by a partnership including Bing Crosby, actors Pat O'Brien, Gary Cooper, Joe E. Brown, Charles S. Howard and Oliver Hardy.

The Del Mar Fairgrounds, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and Surfside Race Place all share just one address for the entire complex 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar CA 92014.

Trevor Denman is track announcer and the voice of Del Mar.

History and Information[edit]

When Del Mar opened in 1937, Bing Crosby was at the gate to personally greet the fans. On August 12, 1938, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club hosted a $25,000 winner-take-all match race between Charles S. Howard's Seabiscuit and the Binglin Stable's colt, Ligaroti. In an era when horse racing ranked second in popularity with Americans to Major League Baseball, the match race was much written and talked about and was the first nationwide broadcast of a Thoroughbred race by NBC radio.[3] In the race, Seabiscuit was ridden by jockey George Woolf and Ligaroti by Noel Richardson. In front of a record crowd that helped make the fledgling Del Mar race track a success, Seabiscuit won by a nose.

By 1940, Del Mar became a summer playground for many Hollywood stars. Between 1942 and 1944, the facility was closed due to the Second World War. Initially, the grounds were used for training by the United States Marine Corps, then as a manufacturing site for parts to B-17 bombers.

The first Bing Crosby Stakes was held at Del Mar in 1946 and that same year the Santa Fe Railroad began offering a racetrack special bringing spectators, bettors, and horses to Del Mar from Los Angeles.[4] Throughout the late 1940s and 1950s, the track became the Saratoga of the West for summer racing. The track had large purses for many stakes, many of which were won by the famous jockey Bill Shoemaker.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Del Mar continued to be one of the premier racetracks in the country. The track attempted to run a fall meet in the 1960s but later canceled it after getting lackluster results. This allowed for the creation of the Oak Tree Racing Association at Santa Anita race track.

Change marked the 1980s when the infield was opened to spectators and in 1984 Trevor Denman became the voice of Del Mar. The track continued to grow in purses, handle, and attendance.

Aerial view of the Del Mar Fairgrounds and Racetrack looking northwest along the Pacific Ocean coastline.

In the 1990s, the track underwent a major renovation. The grandstand of the Del Mar Fairgrounds was demolished and replaced. In 1991, the track ran its richest race to date, the $1,000,000 Grade I Pacific Classic Stakes. The first Classic was won by a top three-year-old named Best Pal.

Beginning in 2000, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club 's marketing team went through a major shift in their marketing direction. They realized they had to attract a more youthful audience as well as a female audience. They focused Del Mar as a fashionable destination, using social media and other avenues to market the racetrack. The majority of ads didn't show horses. They adopted the slogan "Cool as Ever" and created a new brand around "Del Mar Scene". They also hired jockey and model Chantal Sutherland to be the new face of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club [5]

Their strategy worked as over 13 years later Del Mar has changed their demographics and audience attendance.[6][7] The marketing campaign of the Del Mar Racetrack has become a Stanford business study to see if their strategy could be done at other racetracks.[8]

One of the largest draws each year for the Del Mar racetrack has now become Opening Day with its hats contest and parties. [9] [10]

In March 2013, there was a vote to expand the turf portion of the racetrack.[11] Construction began later in the year, and the work was completed in time for the 2014 racing season. The work included widening the course to 80 feet and softening the curve coming out of the diagonal chute, thus allowing more horses to compete in turf races.[12] The following year, Del Mar renovated the main track, installing El Segundo Sand.

Starting in 2014, Del Mar is expected to run more racing cards due to the closure of Hollywood Park Racetrack.[13][14] A fall meet was added, featuring the Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes, Hollywood Derby, and Matriarch Stakes. Del Mar hosted the Breeders' Cup for the first time in November 2017.

The Del Mar racetrack runs live racing July through early September. A second live racing meet runs in November to mid-December starting in 2014.[15] The other months of the year, the satellite wagering facility is operating at the fairgrounds.


The Del Mar race track has a large multitude of events as the racetrack has become as source of entertainment and not just about horse racing.

These events include:

  • Opening Day at Del Mar with their famous hat contest
  • Friday Night Concerts which are free with paid admission before the last race, otherwise the concerts are $20 to attend. Prepaid tickets and promotional tickets are invalid for just the concerts.
  • Family Fun Day every Saturday and Sunday where the infield offers free entertainment for kids.
  • Camp Del Mar A Daycare center for the kids while the parents are spending the day at the track.
  • Giveaway Days The items vary each year what is being given away


Physical attributes of Race Track[edit]

The track has a one-mile oval with chutes for 7/8 and 1 1/4 mile races and a seven-eighths mile oval with a diagonal straightaway chute for 1 1/16 and 1 1/8 mile races on the turf course. The turf is a mixture of Common Bermuda and Hybrid Bermuda (GN-1). The track runs twice a year at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and can stable more than two thousand horses. Del Mar is known for its tan stucco grandstand located directly on the Pacific Ocean.[17]

In early 2007, Del Mar became the second track in Southern California to install a synthetic surface and the first to install a Polytrack brand surface [18] for a price of approximately $9 million. However, in February 2014 Del Mar president Joe Harper announced his intention to return to a dirt surface for the 2015 racing season.[19] Harper cited a lack of synthetic surfaces in Southern California as the reason for the switch - Santa Anita Park had experimented with a synthetic surface but then reverted to dirt, while Hollywood Park, which had a synthetic surface, is defunct and being converted to Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park, the future home of the NFL's Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers. This facility is expected to open in 2020.

Panoramic view of the Del Mar Racetrack from the grandstand

TV personalities[edit]

  • Ernie Myers
  • Jon Lies (2007–present)
  • Bob Ike (?–present)
  • Mike Willman (?-2006 full-time, 2007–2009 part-time)


Horses crossing the finish line at the Del Mar Racetrack

The track races from July to September as well as a second meet in November through early December as of 2014. The race track presents the following graded stakes races:

Surfside Race Place and Satellite Wagering[edit]

Surfside Race Place Logo
Picture of Surfside Race Place

Surfside Race Place, one of the nation's largest and most prestigious off-track betting facilities, is the 90,000 sq ft satellite wagering facility of the Del Mar Fairgrounds and Del Mar racetrack. It is located at the northeast corner of the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

The facilities are open during the day on Thursdays and during the day and night on Fridays through Sundays. The facilities are closed on Mondays through Wednesdays. [20] The satellite wagering facility offers live wagering on simulcast horse races—known as live meets—on over 1000 televisions during the off-season of the Del Mar racetrack.

Surfside Race Place has been used for handicapping contests [21][22] as well as handicapping seminars. The 2013 National Handicapping Tournament winner Brent Sumja played and won multiple tournaments at Surfside. [23] The 2014 Handicapper of the year Jose Arias qualified and won here. His check at the end was $750,000. [24][25][26][27][28]

Inside view of one of the rooms at Surfside Raceplace, The satellite wagering facility and sports bar of the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

The sports bar Surfside Race Place gives horse-racing fans excitement by broadcasting horse races via satellite from around the country. Race fans can view and bet by satellite on races run at other racetracks such as: Aqueduct, Arlington Park, Belmont Park, Calder, Cal Expo Harness, Churchill Downs, Delaware Park, Ellis Park, Fair Grounds, Fairplex, Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park, Hastings, Hawthorne, Kentucky Downs, Laurel, Los Alamitos, Meadowlands, Monmouth Park, Oaklawn, Oak Tree, Pimlico, Remington, Santa Anita Park, Saratoga, Sunland Park, Turfway Park, Victoria Race Tracks, and Woodbine. As well as high-stakes races such as the Dubai World Cup, fans can also bet on Grade 1 races like the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes, which combined form the Triple Crown.[29]

Surfside Race Place has multiple food and drink options throughout the day. From 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., complimentary coffee is available to patrons. Following the complimentary coffee, The Carving Stand opens and offers daily specials as well as salads, soups, and fresh carved sandwiches. Across from The Carving Stand, a small bar serves a variety of food as well as drinks. Patrons can order food at the exclusive Saddle Club, which is a sit-down restaurant located upstairs in Surfside Race Place. The Saddle Club has its own special menu and also offers varying daily specials. Fridays through Sundays, a bar—located in the theater of Surfside Race Place—opens late at night serving typical bar food and alcohol.

Diamond Club[edit]

Diamond CLub.jpg

The Del Mar Diamond Club is a free membership shared between the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and Surfside Race Place.

The Diamond Club gives half price admission to both venues. The racetrack offers free Wednesdays for Diamond Club members.

Members can choose to have their cards turned on for holding account balances like a credit card which can then be used on the wagering machines or from their mobile phone for placing bets.

Diamond Club members can get a free parking pass to Surfside Race Place with paid admission. Simply inquire about it inside at the giftshop. The parking pass is good year round as long as Surfside is open.

Diamond Club Members who scan their card while wagering on California tracks can receive various perks depending on the amount wagered.[30]

Premium Clubs of The Del Mar racetrack[edit]

The Turf Club

The Turf Club is the Premium Club of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. You must be a member, or a guest of a member, to visit the Turf Club. A buttoned up shirt and jacket are required attire for men.

The Saddle Club

The Saddle Club is the Premium Club of Surfside Race Place. Anybody may visit for a daily fee. There is no required dress code.

The two clubs have no relation to one another. Membership in one doesn't grant access to the other one.


  1. ^ List of horse racing venues by capacity
  2. ^ "Cool As Ever Campaign". Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Del Mar Times". Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  4. ^ Rosen, Michael M. (February 8, 2013). "Del Mar rail station's big 'if'". U-T San Diego.
  5. ^ Chantal Sutherland face of Del Mar Archived 2014-01-15 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "InformationWeek, serving the information needs of the Business Technology Community". InformationWeek. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  7. ^ / Del Mar Race track marketing
  8. ^ "Del Mar Racetrack, Reinventing the Horse Racing Fan Experience". Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  9. ^ Sondheimer, Eric (17 July 2013). "Opening day at Del Mar racetrack and there's a party going on". Retrieved 16 April 2018 – via LA Times.
  10. ^ "Style and Studs - Opening Day at the Del Mar Race Track". Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Del Mar Racetrack expansion". Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  12. ^ Williams, Gene (2013-08-16). "A Wider, Better Turf Course Is Coming Soon To Del Mar" (Press release). Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Retrieved 2014-02-19.
  13. ^ LaMarra, Tom (May 9, 2013). "Hollywood Park to Close in December". The BloodHorse. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
  14. ^ "Del Mar racetrack considers additional months". Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  15. ^ "Del Mar Racetrack". Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Mar Race track entertainment". Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  17. ^ 2012 Del Mar Media cGuide Archived 2011-11-05 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ "Del Mar Polytrack passes test - Daily Racing Form". Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  19. ^ Anderson, Steve (February 18, 2014). "Del Mar plans to install dirt track for 2015". Daily Racing Form. Retrieved February 19, 2014.
  20. ^ "Surfside Race Place". Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  21. ^ "Streiff Wins National Handicapping Tour". Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  22. ^ "National Handicapping Tour leader tries to maintain slim advantage over two rivals - Daily Racing Form". Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  23. ^ "Handicapper Sumja Secures NHC Tour Title". Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  24. ^ "Del Mar Fairgrounds :". Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  25. ^ "Jeff Munson -". ZoomInfo. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  26. ^ "Handicapping Seminar with Bob Ike". Eventful. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  27. ^ [ "New Race Track Executive Joins Del Mar�s Surfside Race Place ~ EquestrianMag"]. Retrieved 16 April 2018. replacement character in |title= at position 39 (help)
  28. ^ Dempsey, Michael. "Horseplayer Seeks $2.75 Million Pay Day in National Handicapping Championship". Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Diamond Club". Retrieved 16 April 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°58′35″N 117°15′47″W / 32.97639°N 117.26306°W / 32.97639; -117.26306