Del Mar Opening Day July 15 is a Special Event
More than 40,000 race fans are expected to attend what’s defined as one of the most fabulous, fashionable and fun festivities in the west – Opening Day at Del Mar. The Del Mar season marks the beginning of summer for Southern California racing fans, and his year’s opening day at the seaside track 20 miles North of San Diego is Friday, July 15.
Del Mar celebrates in style with an energized atmosphere where old friends get reacquainted, women show up in their best dresses and hats, and trainers and jockeys arrive with newfound optimism.
While many tracks across America continue to struggle, some relying on the casino industry to survive, Del Mar provides a unique venue and racing event experience.
“We’re very proud of what we do, but we never take ourselves for granted,” said Joe Harper, Del Mar President and CEO. “At Del Mar, it’s about the brand,” Harper said. “People have come to expect a good time when they come to the track, and we’re very service-conscious. We want everyone to have a good time and enjoy their day with us.”
That’s what fans do, and especially on opening day. Many ladies line up for the Opening Day Hats Contest with more than $5,000 in total prizes. The Party on Opening Day presented by Harrah’s provides more entertainment at the races. And the Opening Day After Party continues into the evening for those willing to spend a little extra for additional style and fun at L’Auberge Del Mar.
The track also will continue to have postrace concerts, giveaways and other promotions.
Turf routes headline the first Saturday and Sunday of the meet. The Grade II $200,000 Yellow Ribbon Handicap at a mile and a sixteenth for the ladies and the Grade II $250,000 Eddie Read at nine furlongs for the boys get the Del Mar graded stakes action rolling and will likely draw full fields given the absence of the turf course at Santa Anita over the past few weeks.
“We’re looking forward to a great summer meet, a tremendous stakes schedule, and, of course, hosting the Breeders’ Cup (2017),” Harper said.
But Harper also acknowledges that the track has struggled with attendance and handle the past two years. In 2015, Attendance was off by an average of more than 2,000 a day, down over 12.6 percent compared to the summer of 2014. On-track wagering was off by more than $10 million or more than 13 percent from 2014.
“I think we finally reached the point where the perceived value is not as prevalent as it used to be. What do you do about it? You either improve your product or you lower your price. I think we probably need to do both.”
The track should get a boost with the return of California Chrome, the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner and this year’s $10 million Dubai World Cup champion. The public will be able to watch California Chrome workout at 7:45 a.m. Saturday, July 16. California Chrome is scheduled to race in the Grade II, $200,000 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 23.
Del Mar’s season runs over eight weekends until Labor Day, Monday, September 5. After the opening Friday through Sunday start of the session, racing will be conducted on a Wednesday through Sunday basis for the balance of the summer.