By Betsy Malloy
"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 these days, Del Mar is bucking a nationwide trend toward declining race track attendance, setting 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.
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.