Jockey Rafael Bejarano leads Olympic Blue to victory in the first rae of the season. Chris Stone photo
Rafael Bejarano guides Olympic Blue to victory in the first race of the Del Mar season. Chris Stone photo

The 76th season of thoroughbred racing at the Del Mar Racetrack opened Thursday with Olympic Blue recording his first victory in five starts this year in the first race.

Horses move from the Paddock area to the racetrack prior to a race. Chris Stone photo

Ridden by jockey Rafael Bejarano, the 5-year-old finished one length ahead of American Act to become the first horse to win on Del Mar’s new one-mile dirt track, which replaced a synthetic surface that was in place for eight years.

According to the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, about 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 oval. The same material is also used at the Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia.

The dirt track will require less water than the former surface, according to the DMTC.

Triple Crown winner American Pharoah tested the dirt earlier this week. The champion horse is working out at Del Mar in preparation for an Aug. 2 run at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, but is not expected to race locally.

As usual, the highlight of the 40-day Del Mar season will be the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic. It’s scheduled for Aug. 22, along with 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 taking the stage. Eleven concerts are planned during the racing season on Fridays and Saturdays.

Racing will take place Wednesdays through Sundays each week and conclude on Labor Day. First post is 2 p.m. except for Friday, which is at 4 p.m.

Admission to the clubhouse is $10, and the Stretch Run is $6. Tickets for a reserved seat will cost an additional $5 to $25.

Parking is $10. Race fans can also take the North County Transit District’s Coaster train or Amtrak to the Solana Beach station. A free shuttle runs from the station to the track.

— City News Service