“Bing” is back.
Del Mar’s fall meet — branded the “Bing Crosby Season” in honor of the racetrack founder — returns Nov. 8, and will feature 15 action-packed days of racing through Dec. 1.
“We’re loaded with fantastic racing, more events than ever, two free concerts, a beer and a wine fest, and different promotions this season,” said Chris Bahr, director of events and promotions.
Fourteen of the races on the calendar are stakes — nine of them graded — and they are worth a total of $1.95 million. The track plans to continue enforcing safety measures implemented after Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia experienced 30 horse fatalities in the spring. Del Mar ended its summer season without a single serious injury during the races.
“The safety precautions put in place last summer worked really well for us,” Del Mar Chief Executive Officer Joe Harper said. “Very rarely do you see race meets without one horse breaking down in a race. We were very lucky in that respect.”
These measures include medication reform; enhanced stable security; additional veterinary protocols during morning training; an entry review panel that reviews horses’ medical, training and racing history; prohibition of the use of riding crops during morning workouts; increased out-of-competition testing; and a stakeholder advisory committee to discuss track surfaces, safety practices and operations.
“All these things came together pretty well, so we’ll do it again,” Harper said. “Primarily last year, there was a big challenge to really change the culture of the backstretch, and making sure the trainers and those involved (in racing) realize how perilous our sport was. I’m happy to report that I have found a culture change back there. Most trainers understand the ramifications of horses breaking down.”
Harper and Bahr noted that some participants in the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships — slated Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita — may race at Del Mar, likely toward the end of the meet. The final four days will feature seven stakes races, including the Grade I Hollywood Derby and Matriarch Stakes.
Also during that last weekend, the track will debut the Wizards Beerfest, from noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 30.
“We’re very excited and think this is a fun, new event,” Bahr said. “We encourage everyone to dress up.”
Admission — which is limited to ages 21 and older — is $39, and includes five beer tastings. Patrons can shop in the Enchanted Market Place, take photos with the Grand Hat, listen to musical acts such as the Slytherin Sisters and the Red Headed Party Band, sip on Buttered Beer, and indulge in additional beverages. Additional tasting passes and full drinks are available for purchase. Go to wizardsbeerfest.com.
Diamond Club members can enjoy special perks on Opening Day, Nov. 8, with free admission and $2 off Saint Archer beers. Those who are not Diamond Club members can sign up for the free membership through the Del Mar mobile app or outside the Stretch Run admission gates.
Fans can also opt for Turf Club seating, as limited tables will be available daily for $120, and learn about racing at a Newcomers’ Seminar an hour before first post in the Plaza de Mexico.
The day’s first race will support Camp Wamp, which aids youths with disabilities. Five Camp Wamp kids will escort riders from the jockeys’ room to the paddock, and then participate in the winner’s circle presentation after the race.
Later that afternoon will be the featured event, the $75,000 Kathryn Crosby Stakes.
Nov. 9 will be filled with festivities. Early risers can catch the morning workouts and breakfast in the Clubhouse Terrace Restaurant from 8 to 10 a.m. during Daybreak at Del Mar, hosted by Michelle Yu, and can do so each Saturday during the meet.
The free Weekend Handicapping Seminars will also begin that day, at 11:30 a.m. in the Seaside Terrace.
From 1 to 4 p.m., there will be the Uncorked: Derby Days Wine Festival, with unlimited tastings, gourmet food trucks, live music and a Derby Dame/Dapper Dan fashion contest. Ticket prices range from $65 to $95, and designated drivers are $25. Admission is limited to ages 21 and older; go to www.dmtc.com.
Meanwhile, Del Mar’s Il Palio restaurant will be the site of the Bet on Cures fundraiser for the Chron’s & Colitis Foundation. Patrons will be able to participate in casino games, a live and silent auction, hors d’oeuvres and a wine pull from noon to 4 p.m. The cost is $125; go to BOC19.givesmart.com.
After the races, country singer Russell Dickerson will take the stage. As with previous seasons, concert entry is limited to ages 18 and older, and is free with the purchase of standard racetrack admission. It’s $30 for those who enter the gates after the day’s final race.
Also that weekend, serious bettors will test their skills in the Del Mar Fall Handicapping Challenge, which has a $5,000 buy-in. From that fee, $3,500 will be designated for a live bankroll for betting, and $1,500 will go toward the prize pool. All of the prize pool will be returned. Go to www.dmtc.com.
Free & Fun Sundays will begin Nov. 10, when Diamond Club members receive free track admission and seating, along with $5 Cardiff Crack tri-tip sliders, $3 hot dogs and $6 Coors Lights pints. Also on Sundays, half-priced signature cocktails will be offered until 2 p.m., and chef Brian Malarkey will host Taste of the Turf Club for $100 per person.
Every Thursday beginning Nov. 14, Seniors’ Day will be held in the Stretch Run area. Guests age 62 and older will receive free admission, racing program and a seat with a valid ID.
On Nov. 16, the seaside oval will host its annual College Day. Students with a valid ID can receive free racetrack admission, $2 off Red Bull products, and take advantage of various other food and drink specials.
The evening will end with a performance by reggae band The Wailers on the Seaside Stage.
Del Mar’s Craft Beer Festival will return Nov. 23, with more than 100 craft brews, seasonal ales and ciders available for sampling. The event — scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. — will also have gourmet food booths, DJs and a beer stein holding contest. The $27 pre-sale package includes racetrack admission and a program, five 7-ounce beer tastings, a $5 food or beverage voucher, and a racing tip sheet; go to www.dmtc.com. Beer tastings can also be purchased the day of the event.
Starting at noon that day, in the Il Palio restaurant, Southern California owners and breeders Marsha Naify and Samantha Siegel will be honored at “A Day at the Races…Celebrating Women in Horseracing.” The affair is a fundraiser for the Don Diego Scholarship Foundation, and it will also kick-start the creation of the Joe Harper Scholarship, which will be given annually to students who have an association with the racetrack. Tickets are $200 if purchased by Nov. 15 or $250 afterward; go to www.dondiegoscholarship.org.
Another charitable event will be held Nov. 24, as Del Mar will serve as a collection point for Toys for Tots. To contribute to the cause, racegoers can bring in a new, unwrapped toy, and receive free admission to the track.
Puppies, horses and turkeys
Del Mar will commence its Thanksgiving Day celebration with the Family Fun Run. Participants “break” from the starting gate, race a full lap around the one-mile oval, then experience a “photo finish” in the winners circle. Registration begins at 7 a.m., with the fun run slated for 8 a.m. The Helen Woodward Puppy Race is at 8:30 a.m., and the dogs will be available for adoption afterward. There will also be games and prizes, doughnuts, face painting, entertainers, and holiday arts and crafts. It’s $12 for ages 4-15 and $22 for ages 16 and older, and includes parking, a fun run T-shirt and two racetrack admission passes. Proceeds benefit Helen Woodward and its equestrian therapy program; go to www.dmtc.com.
Racing will begin later that morning with a special first post of 11 a.m. Thanksgiving-themed fare will be available restaurants throughout the track, and there will be a brunch in the Turf Club for $100 per person; RSVP at www.dmtc.com.
It’s a wrap
On Closing Day, Dec. 1, Del Mar will host Holiday at the Races: A Pop-Up Festival, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Plaza de Mexico & Hacienda Lounge. The $10 tickets include admission into the track, a program, gift bag, donor ribbon, racing tip sheet, mini-spa and mini-glam treatments, live music, and entry in an opportunity drawing with more than $3,000 in prizes. There will also be more than 25 retail pop-up vendors to assist with holiday shopping needs, wine tasting and a mimosa bar. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation; go to www.dmtc.com.
In addition, the track will collect nonperishable items for the San Diego Food Bank outside the Stretch Run Admission Gates; donors will receive free admission.
“Expect us to put on a show as we always do,” Bahr said of the meet.
Del Mar racetrack 2019 fall season
Dates: Nov. 8-Dec. 1
Location: Via de la Valle and Jimmy Durante Boulevard
Post time: 12:30 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays; 11 a.m. Thanksgiving (Nov. 28)
Admission: $6; free for children 17 and younger
Parking: $10 General & Early Bird, $20 Valet
Information: (858) 755-1141, www.dmtc.com