â€¨By: Esther Rubio-Sheffrey
It is â€œturf and surfâ€ time. No, it is not a typo; this is not about a lobster and steak dinner, it is about one of San Diegoâ€™s premiere venues. Thatâ€™s right; the 2011 Del Mar horseracing season is finally upon us.
Whether you are betting on horses, rocking out to a free concert, or enjoying one of the many events at the track, Del Mar is the place to be July 20th through September 7th. Despite economic hard times last year, San Diegans flocked to the racetrack on opening day by the thousands, setting a new single day attendance record of 45,309. If you plan to attend this year, do not forget your hat, and plan accordingly.
NUGâ€™s guide to the Del Mar racing season will help ensure that your calendars are marked for all the events you donâ€™t want to miss. There is a plethora of options with a variety of fun-filled things for all ages, so get out the sun block and discover why â€œthereâ€™s a smile on every face, and a winner in each race.â€
The Del Mar Breakdown
First and foremost, if you are not already a â€œDiamond Clubâ€ member, you need to be. Membership is free, easy, and simply requires a valid photo ID. Just look for the Diamond Club booths by the Stretch Run admission gates. Benefits include half off general and clubhouse admission every day except Wednesdays, when admission is free, and dozens of special promotions and discounts throughout the racing season, like free seats, programs, and hot dogs, and half off the price of draft beer.
Betting on the horseraces can cost as little as 50Â¢, and there is no need to fret over not understanding the betting system because Staff Handicapper Bob Lovka has got you covered. Every day, one hour prior to the first race, you can take part in the Newcomers Seminar. â€“Get all your betting questions answered, learn terminology and strategies, as well as tips and picks.
Opening Day at Del Mar is not just about horses, it is all about hats. The annual Hats Contest is a spectacle in itself. Although mostly females participate, men are also welcome to compete in one of these four categories: Best Racing Theme, Funniest or Most Outrageous, Most Glamorous, and Best Flowers. Registration opens at 11:30 am, and the hat parade takes place at 3 pm. Winners in each category will compete for cash and prizes worth up to $650.
Del Mar is the perfect place for families to stretch their entertainment funds. Kids get in free every weekend and the infield is converted into a mini-carnival area complete with inflatables, pony rides, and games. For parents in need of some grown-up fun who are unable to find a babysitter, there is also Camp Del Mar, where kids ages 5â€“12 are supervised by a team of trained professionals. The $24 cost includes a variety of activities, like video games, crafts, lunch, snacks, and a t-shirt.
The food options at Del Mar include everything from nachos to catered food inside the suites and skyboxes. Thursdays will feature a special promotion from Oggiâ€™s Pizza & Brewing Co. that includes admission, a program, a seat, a personal cheese pizza and drink for only $11. If you are an early riser, be sure to inquire about Donut Days on Saturdays from 8â€“10 am. While the ponies practice, you can enjoy free Yum Yum donuts, coffee and orange juice.
This yearâ€™s main foodie attraction will be the inauguration of the annual Gourmet Food Truck Festival on August 20th.Â 40 of the hottest gourmet food trucks from Southern California will convene at the new Seaside Concert Area from noon to 6 pm. Start saving your appetite because it is going to be difficult to choose from the many eclectic options. â€“Access to the trucks is free with your racetrack admission.
Concerts and Beer
If you are a music lover, Del Marâ€™s 4 Oâ€™Clock Fridays are the days you want to attend. For the $6 general admission price ($3 for Diamond Club members), you can stick around after the last race and enjoy some of the music industryâ€™s top performers for free.
This year, Del Mar will unveil its new concert stage, with the Pacific Ocean as its backdrop. The Summer Concert Series lineup includes G. Love & Special Sauce, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Ziggy Marley saluting the Legends of Reggae, The Bravery, Weezer, Jimmy Eat World, Devo, Airborne Toxic Event, Fitz and the Tantrums, and Ben Harper.
And if getting to see the likes of Weezer, Ziggy Marley, and Ben Harper for less than $10 was not enough, all three performers will take the stage during Del Marâ€™s annual Beer Fest. Dozens of craft brewers â€“ like local favorites: Ballast Point, Firestone, and Green Flash â€“ will pour over 60 different types of beer samples alongside some of the nationâ€™s top brewers. A $15 wristband entitles you to five 7 oz. beers.
Be sure to check out the Del Mar website for additional information, such as parking, group rates, and to learn more about the dozens of events. There are also fundraisers, events for ladies, and even a special day for manâ€™s best friend. Whether you bet on the races or not, Del Mar really does offer something for everyone.