Horse racing is the historical and time-honored sport of Kings, Queens, Presidents and even Dictators. While in San Diego, why not spend a day at one of the best race tracks in the country, Del Mar Racetrack?
The famous crooner, Bing Crosby, actor Pat O'Brien and the very funny, Jimmy Durante found the perfect plot of land near the Pacific Ocean in Del Mar for their racetrack. The next year, 1938, Seabiscuit--did you see the movie?--won by a nose, against a horse called Ligaroti. In the 1950's, Bill Shoemaker won record-numbers of races--one time it was 94 races he won in 41 days--and this track holds some of the most prestigious stakes events in California racing.
The track was closed during WWII, however, by 1989 Del Mar became the leading track in the country. In recent years it has gone through a restoration that has accentuated the beautiful Spanish style architecture of the buildings and added glorious landscaping.
In short, Del Mar Racetrack is one of the best in the United States and it is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon. It has two tracks and the season usually runs from July--just after the Del Mar Fair--until September. Opening day of the season has the added enchantment of race goers wearing competitively fantastic hats.
Betting on the horses is not a requirement, but it's fun to put a bit on and take your chances.
Admission only: Stretch Run $6.00, Clubhouse $10.00 without a seat and goes up from there and there is a fee for parking in the lot, they offer valet service, which costs a bit more. Make sure you pay the extra charge for a seat unless you want to spend the whole time standing.
It was 1880 when San Diego had its first agricultural fair at Kimbal Park in National City, and since that time many things, unique, funny and not so funny, have occured to give added color to this event.
October 1936 the permanent location for the San Diego County Fair opened it's doors in Del Mar. Today the San Diego County Fairgrounds at Del Mar shares the space with the very popular and successful Del Mar Thoroughbred Club which begins it's season just after the Fair ends.
Originally, County Fairs offered farmers and ranchers the opportunity of showing off their best results throughout the year's work. The 4-H club for young people played a part in county fairs, children who won prizes on their animal or agricultural project were featured and the county fair was a big social event for citizens of the area. Today, however, the county fair offers all this and more. Food, carnival rides, the newest models of everything one can think of as well as local handicrafts, agricultural and farm animal successes.
The SD County Fair takes place in the summer and it would be a great place to take the kids if you happen to be in town. If you visit at other times of the year and still would like to see the fair grounds/racetrack, check the newspaper for any odd event offered at this location, such as Orchid shows, which are held here often.