“Where the turf meets the surf down at Old Del Mar” … those were the words of Bing Crosby back in 1937 when he and his Hollywood friends founded the Del Mar Racetrack. Since assuming management of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in 1978, Joe Harper has guided the historic track through a period of growth and unparalleled success. Del Mar is recognized as one of the nation’s top racetracks for daily average handle and attendance, in a uniquely casual yet elegant venue.
Join Village Viewpoints as Harper discusses how he and his team have kept the spirit of Bing Crosby alive so many years later while continuing to build a legacy for the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club as a must-see destination for world-class racing and entertainment.
Harper will speak on Sunday, Jan. 27 in the Fellowship Center of the Village Church in Rancho Santa Fe. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served beginning at 6 p.m., with Harper to begin speaking at 6:30 p.m. Time will be allowed for audience questions. Advance ticket purchase began on Jan. 2 and is recommended - $30 for adults and $10 for students through Jan. 18 at 5 p.m. After this time, any remaining adult tickets will be $35. Tickets may be purchased at www.villagechurch.org/viewpoints.
Harper and his team realized that they needed to be creative in promoting the track; in response to someone’s comment that Del Mar is a really cool place to work, they came up with the new tagline, “Cool as Ever”, keeping the past but bringing it up to the present. Today, there is an engaging mix of music, festivals and events of all sorts that have attracted young and old alike.
Harper’s dream of hosting a Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Del Mar was realized in 2017 with spectacular results. Coinciding with the opening of a new and expanded turf course, the track was enhanced with temporary structures to add to the existing ambiance. Del Mar set a Breeders’ Cup on-track record handle of $25,181,317 over the two days of the championships. The economic impact on the San Diego community reached $96 million.
As the grandson of the great movie producer Cecil B. deMille, Harper takes great pride in serving as a trustee of the Cecil B. deMille Foundation. In addition, he has served on numerous thoroughbred racing organization boards, chairman of the Advisory Board of the California Center for Equine Health at U.C. Davis and locally on the board of the San Dieguito Boys & Girls Clubs. And on Jan. 24, Harper will receive the Eclipse Award of Merit in recognition of a lifetime of outstanding achievement in thoroughbred racing from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.