The 79th Opening Day at Del Mar Racetrack took place July 18, 2018. It included 10 races, the 24th annual hat contest, numerous parties, and a midday singing performance by actor and singer David Hasselholf of Bing Crosby’s “Where The Turf Meets The Surf.” Over 40,000 people crowded together to enjoy all the festivities, people watch, make a few bets, indulge in fine wine and elegant cuisine, and hang out with friends and family. Opening Day is a celebrated party affair where the “Beautiful People” fly in from all over the United States to make an appearance at the VIP Turf Club, and attend exclusive pre and post parties in Del Mar.
The “Opening Day Hat Contest,” a crowd favorite since 1995, is an extravagant beauty pageant of 40-50 contestants prancing around in flamboyant, glamorous, and ostentatious hats of their own design. There are five categories in which the hopeful contestants are judged on their style, “Best Fascinator,” “Best Racing Theme,” “Funniest/ Most Outrageous,” “Best Flowers,” and “Most Glamorous”. I have never seen so many outrageously stunning hats! The judges must have a hard time selecting the winners. There were more than $5,000 worth of gifts, and prize awarded This spectacular competition of breathtaking hats took place from 1130 AM to 3 PM at the Plaza de Mexico.
Leslie Monroy of Spring Valley was the winner of the Grand Prize, which included a one-night stay at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar and dinner for two at the Addison Restaurant, featuring Chef William Bradley’s multi course tasting menu with wine, plus a gift basket, all of which is valued at over $1500.
I was lucky to be able to have a late lunch at one of the Del Mar Trackside Dining tables, Turf Club level 4, with a few friends where Opening Day pricing is $325-$350. The food was deliciously decadent and the “Del Margarita,” a Del Mar signature drink was super tasty.
The 8th race, “Oceanside Stakes” a one mile turf race for 3 year-olds, with an added $100,000 purse, is a popular tradition and a favorite race for me as well. It was thrilling to see the horse, “Restrainedvengence,” an 11-1 longshot, ridden by jockey Evin Roman, who encouraged his horse’s spurious lead in the final stride to win the coveted “Oceanside Stakes.” Restrainedvengence, trained by Val Brinkerhoff and owned by Kelly Brinkerhoff and Bobby Grayson Jr., won the race by three-quarters of a length and in 1:35.37 for the distance. I always find racing more exhilarating when a longshot horse like Restrainedvengence wins. I saw him in the Paddock area and felt his aura as a winner. My only regret is not betting more money on this beautiful horse.
The Del Mar Racetrack, opened on July 3, 1937 by Bing Crosby, is a magnificent place where anyone can come, party, play, enjoy the festivities, and appreciate the natural beauty of Del Mar . It does not matter if you win or lose, you will have a great time!
The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is located at 2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard Delmar, CA 92014. This year’s season continues through September 3, 2018. There are 41 stakes races including the $1 million Pacific Classic on August 18. The fall season “Bing Crosby Meet” runs from November 9th through December 2, 2018. There are quite a few special events this summer, including the “Burgers & Brews Festival” on July 21, the “Turf & Surf BBQ Championship” on August 19, and a musical concert series starting after the final race on Friday and Saturday afternoons. For additional information go to the website http://www.dmtc.com or call the main switchboard at (858)755-1141.