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Del Mar Race Track Visitor Guide

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Del Mar Race Track Basics
Del Mar Race Track Visitor Guide

Watching the Races at Del Mar Race Track

©2010 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
  • Racing season at the Del Mar Race Track runs from late July through early September and again in November
  • Closed Mondays and Tuesdays
  • Races are at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday
  • Friday races start at 4:00 p.m. on the first four Fridays and 3:30 p.m. after that
  • The once-a-year Pacific Classic starts at 1:00 p.m. Opening Day also starts early.
  • Gates open 2 hours before the first race

"That sounds like fun, but I wouldn't know what to do," my friends all said when I mentioned going to the Del Mar Race Track. Frankly, we didn't know either, but now we're here to share our experiences with you. If you visit San Diego during the racing season, the Del Mar Race Track is an inexpensive, fun place to spend some time.

Forget any stereotypes you might have of some pathetic gambler, betting his last nickel at a dingy, run-down track surrounded by a cadre of his peers. Originally owned by singer Bing Crosby, the Del Mar Race Track is a gracious reminder of an elegant, bygone era. And while race track attendance going down in other place, Del Mar sets new records annually.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of watching a horse race from a seat at the Del Mar Race Track instead of your couch is that you get to see events unfold: meticulous track preparations, jockeys getting ready and parading onto the track, riders escorting each race horse onto the track and to the starting gate. You'll find lots of lively folks at Del Mar and the excitement factor as the horses round the last bend makes the crowd seem twice as large as it was a couple of minutes before.

On a fundamental level, The Del Mar Race Track is very simple. A handful of beautiful, thoroughbred horses race around an oval track. People watch and cheer for their favorites. Some bet, others just come to watch. You'll find people of all ages and lots of families on weekends.

The day we went, there were ten races, starting about every half hour. The race itself only lasts a couple of very exciting minutes, peaking as the horses come around the last curve, headed for the finish line. In between, the pace is slow and a table for four in one of the dining areas is a good way to spend a leisurely afternoon with friends.

The last page of this guide will give you all the ins and outs of how to bet, if you want to.

Getting to Del Mar Race Track

The Del Mar race track is at the San Diego County Fairgrounds in north San Diego County, 20 miles north of downtown San Diego and 100 miles south of Los Angeles. Take I-5 north from San Diego (or south from Los Angeles and Orange County) and exit in Carlsbad. The exit (Via de la Valle) and directions are well marked.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary admission for the purpose of reviewing the Del Mar Race Track. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.

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