The Bars, Social Scene, Tickets & All You Need To Know
Spending a day at Del Mar, the famous Southern California horse racing track “where the turf meets the surf” is a laid-back, relaxing and also exhilarating experience.
If done properly.it’s an enjoyable time by the beach, combining a sporting event with the makeup of a social mixer and outdoor party.
PubClub.com provides these tips for attending the races (and enjoying all the social benefits that come with it), ranging from betting suggestions to which tickets to purchase to where to get your drinks. Opening Day in 2016 – what PubClub calls “the Kentucky Derby of the West Coast” – is on Friday, July 15.
The season runs thru Sept. 5, with the Bing Crosby Meet running from Nov. 11-Dec. 4.
• TIP #1
Purchase the Clubhouse pass over the GA. For $10 extra, it doubles the access area, is less crowded and greatly increases one’s socializing opportunities. It’s $20 on Opening Day, $10 on all other days.
• TIP #2
For groups or a date, a reservation at one of the restaurants is recommended ($60 for table of 4 on weekends, plus admission). Don’t do this on Opening Day – they sell out months in advance and you’ll want to roam around the grounds on that day.
* TIP #3
Arrive by 1 p.m. Races are 2-7 p.m. Any later, especially for big events like Opening Day, will cause much frustration with lines at the bars and betting areas (even getting in on Opening Day poses a challenge as Del Mar is overwhelmed by the large crowds). In fact, on Opening Day, be in the area by noon if possible, 12:30 at the latest.
• TIP #4
Eat first! If you wait until you’re at the track from one of the restaurants, you’ll spend half your day – seriously – waiting for service and food. It’s that crowded on Opening Day.
• TIP #5
Get drinks from concession stands instead of the “pubs” when it’s busy. The lines are shorter. That being said, the Red Star bar is the place to be for the final two races.
• TIP #6
Be sure and take in the Hat Parade on Opening Day. This is where the lovely ladies of Del Mar circle around the gazebo in large, decorative hats. There’s a $300 first prize so the incentive is pretty good for the girls to go all out and they do, too. The contest takes place from 11:30-3 at the Plaza de Mexico inside the Stretch Run admission gates. It’s really a parade that lasts throughout the day; a good time to get there is just before 3.
• TIP #7
Bet a horse to win & place or win, place and show (called “across the board”). Stay clear from trifectas and exactas; while payoffs are large, they are hard to hit. The horses are paraded around for fans and betters outside the racing area prior to each race for anyone who wants to get a look at the jockey and horse ahead of betting.
• TIP #8
The handicappers put their reviews available in the free program and race forum newspaper, are knowledgeable but it’s difficult for even them to consistently pick race winners.
• TIP # 9
Take time to socialize. And soak up the sun! Del Mar provides a relaxed environment and many people are at the track to enjoy being outside in a social setting, to meet and mingle, and to enjoy the scene and atmosphere. At Del Mar, it’s not all about the horses and the betting.
• TIP #10
After the races, have drinks and tacos (fish or shrimp) at the Brigantine . This restaurant/bar is walking distance from the grounds, has a full view of the track (and the Pacific Ocean) and has terrific tacos. To drink, get the margaritas in the shakers. After the Brigantine, head to En Fuego in downtown Del Mar (about two miles) because after Opening Day, the place is on fire!
• BONUS TIP
Don’t want to drive? Take the train! The stop is Solana Beach and the track provides buses to the track. Be careful of driving after drinking; cops patrol Via de la Valle (plus it’s not a good idea anyway!).