The Del Mar Racetrack will have a triple-crown winner in the stables and a new dirt course when its 76th thoroughbred racing season opens Thursday.
American Pharoah arrived early Tuesday at the track where he won his first race, the Del Mar Futurity last September.
Though the champion will be working out at Del Mar, the winner of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes is not expected to race during the upcoming local meet. His next scheduled start is Aug. 2 at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.
The new dirt track replaces a synthetic surface that was in place for eight years.
According to the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, around 31,000 tons of dirt known as El Segundo sand — drawn from the El Segundo area near Los Angeles International Airport — was placed on the one-mile oval. The same material is also used at Santa Anita.
The dirt track will also require less water than the former surface, according to the DMTC.
As usual, the highlight of the Del Mar season will be the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic — scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 22. The day will also include the $250,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes and $250,000 Del Mar Handicap.
The racetrack’s summer concert series is scheduled to begin Friday, with the Wallflowers. Eleven concerts are planned during the racing season on Fridays and Saturdays.
Opening Day admission is $10 for the Stretch Run and $20 for the clubhouse — above the usual $6 and $10, respectively. Reserved seating will cost $25 on Opening Day.
For patrons who want to take public transportation, the North County Transit District’s Coaster train will stop at the Solana Beach station. Passengers can then board shuttle buses for the ride to the racetrack.
Because of the large crowds that are expected, passengers are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance, either online or on smartphones.
The NCTD’s promotional “Pony Express” tickets are not valid on Opening Day.
Amtrak will also stop at Solana Beach during the racing season.
—City News Service
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