Thoroughbred racing is set to return to the Del Mar Racetrack Thursday, kicking off with the 20th annual hat contest and the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes.
The race season runs through Sept. 3 and, this year for racing fans there’s a bonus – a 15-date mini-season that will be held in November.
“Our fall race meeting starting this year will be totally separate from our summer session,” said Del Mar Thoroughbred Club president and CEO Joe Harper. “They will be two different animals. We know our summer meet is a winner – we’ve proven it over and over again. And we expect our autumn run can be special, too, in its own way.”
The annual highlight of the summer racing season, the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic, is set for Aug. 24.
Races are scheduled Wednesday through Sunday, with the first-race post time at 2 p.m. most days. On Fridays, the first post is 4 p.m.
On opening day, clubhouse admission will be $20 and stretch run admission $10. All other days, admission prices will be $10 for the clubhouse and $6 for the stretch run.
The North County Transit District is offering an alternative package for those who want to leave their cars at home. NCTD “Pony Express” tickets for the races cost $11 and include race admission, a seat on the Coaster, Sprinter or Breeze and one on a shuttle from the Solana Beach station to the track.
The NCTD tickets can be obtained online, through the agency’s mobile app or at transit vending machines.
Del Mar has had a good year so far, with the news that the racetrack has been chosen as the 2017 site for the prestigious Breeder’s Cup.
Thursday’s hat contest, an opening day nod to the Kentucky Derby in the Plaza de Mexico, features categories like Best Racing Theme, Funniest/Most Outrageous, Most Glamorous, Best Flowers/All Others, and Best Fascinator – a wool, lace or feather alternative to a hat, popularized by the former Kate Middleton, now married to England’s Prince William.
The top prize in each category is $300, plus a $100 gift certificate from the Studio Savvy salon. Second place in $200 and third place is $100.
A grand prize winner will receive a two-night stay at The Grand Del Mar hotel and dinner for two, valued at more than $1,000, along with a $500 gift certificate from The Village Hat Shop.
– City News Service contributed to this report
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