DEL MAR, Calif. – One major San Diego event deserves another.
As cosplayers descend in the tens of thousands downtown for Comic-Con, thousands more will be up north for Opening Day at the Del Mar Racetrack. Friday marks the start of the 83rd season for The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club with gates opening for the day at 11:30 a.m. before the first post at 2 p.m.
Tickets for Opening Day have been sold out for more than a week, track officials said. Plenty of good seats remain for the remainder of the first weekend back at the track, however.
“Selling out is a new thing,” Del Mar Thoroughbred Club President Joe Harper said. “We’ve got so many people there on these opening days that it was just getting out of hand. We wanted to keep it safe and keep it healthy so we limited our attendance to about 22,000 on Opening Day and sold out pretty quickly.”
Harper added, “So, come Saturday now if you haven’t gotten your tickets for Friday.”
Ten races are on the docket Friday in the first of 31 racing days for the track’s 2022 season. On opening weekend, races will run through Sunday and then return to a Thursday through Saturday schedule for the remainder of the season.
Expect to see new features as well as some familiar faces at the track through the weekend, including embattled horse trainer Bob Baffert.
“Bob is back, yes,” Harper said. “He served his 90-day suspension and he’s with us now. Moved horses in (Wednesday) morning. I went by his barn and he’s got some pretty good horses. During the suspension, it was hard for Bob, but his owners hung with him and they’ll be there. We’re delighted to see him back.”
Harper told FOX’s Kathleen Bade he’s excited about the club’s Ship & Win program.
“Basically if you’re in Saratoga and you look at Del Mar and say ‘I wish I could go out there, but it costs so much money to come,’ don’t worry because we’ll pay for it,” he said. “We have this bonus system in place. We’re drawing a lot of the eastern horses out here because our purses are as high as they’ve ever been in California. We have a pretty good draw of out-of-state horses, which is good.
“In fact, some trainers are actually going back there and claiming the horse and bringing it out so they get the bonus money and the shipping money. It’s a good deal for us.”
Several events surrounding Opening Day, including The Grand at Turf Club Tahona Terrace, The Party at Seaside Cabana, and the Official After Pony Party, also are sold out.
Friday’s Hats Contest at Plaza de Mexico begins at 11:30 a.m. with winners announced after the sixth race. The top prize for the winner is a one-night stay and meal for two at Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa and a $500 gift basket with prizes available for first, second and third across several categories.
Parking is available at the track for as low as $15. Preferred, valet and limo/bus parking prices also are available. See all of your parking options here.
For transportation, the Amtrack and Coaster trains stop in Solana Beach where a complimentary shuttle service is available to transport attendees to and from the track on race days. Continuous service begins at 9 a.m. with return service departing 15 minutes after each race and 30 minutes after the last race of the day.
More information on the weekend festivities, including tickets and race information, is available here.