Breeders’ Cup kicks off Del Mar racetrack 2021 fall season

Turf racing during Del Mar’s Bing Crosby meet.
Turf racing during Del Mar’s Bing Crosby meet.
(Kelley Carlson)

“Bing” is back in a big way. Not only is the fall meet — named for founder Bing Crosby — open to the public for the first time in two years, its opening weekend will feature the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, one of thoroughbred racing’s premier events.

The 14 championship races — worth more than $31 million — will be held Nov. 5 and 6.

This is the second time Del Mar will host the event. In 2017, the Breeders’ Cup and the accompanying festival brought in $97 million in economic benefits to the San Diego region, according to a news release.

“We are grateful to Breeders’ Cup for returning to Del Mar and the economic support it brings to our community,” says Craig Dado, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. “This is a milestone event for our city, and we look forward to repeating 2017’s success.”

While not as many international fans and connections are expected at this year’s event due to the COVID-related travel ban, those horses will still able to compete, Dado said.

Fans will be able to begin catching a glimpse of contenders as early as Oct. 31 during Breakfast at Breeders’ Cup. Beginning that morning, through Nov. 4, the public is invited to eat and watch workouts from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. in the Stretch Run Grill.

Live racing resumes Nov. 3, and as noted by Chris Bahr, director of events and promotions, “Opening Day is always festive.” Skydivers will drop in during the day, and celebrations will be held in the Del Mar Village as part of Breeders’ Cup Festival Week.

Bettors who missed qualifying for the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) in previous handicapping contests or who find the event’s $10,000 buy-in fee a bit steep have one more shot at gaining free entry through the Last Chance BCBC on Nov. 4. This contest has a $1,000 buy-in, which includes a $750 live bank roll; the remaining $250 goes toward the prize pool. Those who play at the track will be seated in Il Palio restaurant and receive complimentary food and beverages; online options are also available through Xpressbet and NYRA Bets. Horseplayers will bet on the day’s races at Del Mar. Prizes include cash, and at least five BCBC entries are expected to be awarded. Contact Bahr at

All eyes in the racing world will be focused on Del Mar on Nov. 5 and 6, as the the best horses around the globe compete in the Breeders’ Cup. Guests will be cheering on their favorite thoroughbreds, wearing decorative hats, and sipping on Torrie Cup and Garland signature cocktails.

Medina Spirit
Medina Spirit, shown winning the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar in August, is expected to be among the top contenders in the Grade I, $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 6.
(Kelley Carlson)

A limited number of seats were still available as of Oct. 18, and general admission tickets are now on sale. However, walk-ups will not be permitted, Dado said.

On-site parking passes are sold out, but a park-and-ride with shuttles will be set up at the Del Mar Horse Park, 14550 El Camino Real. The cost is $20 for passes purchased online by Nov. 4, or $25 if bought on the event days.

The first day, dubbed “Future Stars Friday,” will consist of five Breeders’ Cup races for 2-year-olds and five undercard races. First post is 11:55 a.m., with the last race - the Grade I, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf - slated to run at 5:30 p.m.

Day 2 will feature nine Breeders’ Cup races and three undercard races, with first post at 10:15 a.m. The day will be capped by the Grade I, $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic at 5:40 p.m. The field is expected to include Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality and runner-up Hot Rod Charlie, top-ranked older horse Knicks Go, and TVG Pacific Classic hero Tripoli.

The Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge will be in play both of those days, and horseplayers can register at From the $10,000 buy-in, $7,500 will go toward the live bank roll and $2,500 will be designated for the prize pool.

“It’s very lucrative - we expect more than $1 million in prize money to be paid out,” Bahr said.

In regards to safety protocols at the track - developed with guidance from state and local public health officials - proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the event will be required for sixth-floor seating, Dado said on Oct. 14. Vaccinated individuals are recommended to wear face masks in other indoor locations, but it is not required; unvaccinated individuals must wear face coverings indoors, and outdoors when in close proximity to others.

However, protocols are updated frequently and subject to change; go to

Beyond the Breeders’ Cup

The on-site festivities don’t end with racing’s championship event.

A week later, on Nov. 13, the track will bring back College Day. Guests who show a valid student ID will receive free admission, with seating in the 3rd-floor Stretch Run area. There will also be music and drink specials.

The following day, the Taste of the Turf Club will return. During the last three Sundays of the month, visitors can watch the races from a reserved Turf Club seat and partake in a three-course brunch with bottomless mimosas, Aperol spritzes or bloody Marys. Tickets are $100 and include general parking.

From Nov. 19 through 21, racegoers can gain free entry into the track by dropping off a new, unwrapped toy or monetary donation at the admission gates to support the Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program.

There will be some added sparkle on Nov. 20 with the rebranded Beer & Fizz Fest. For $25, people can select five, 5-ounce tasters of hard seltzers, sparkling beverages, ciders and more than 40 craft brews. Attendees can also participate in a Beer Stein Holding Contest for prizes. In addition, there will be activities for all ages to enjoy, including music and gourmet food trucks. The event will be held from noon to 4 p.m. at the west end of the grandstand.

Thanksgiving marks the start of the final four days of the Bing Crosby meet. There will be a three-course brunch and bottomless beverages that day in the Turf Club, which coincides with the first post at 11 a.m. The cost is $120.

The holiday card’s featured race will be the Grade III, $100,000 Red Carpet Stakes for fillies and mares ages 3 and older, at 1 3/8 miles on the turf.

Bahr confirmed that there will not be a Family Mile Fun Run this year, but he said it is expected to be back in the future.

A high-end Handicapping Challenge is being planned for Nov. 27, with details still to be announced. Among the races that afternoon will be the Grade I, $400,000 Hollywood Derby for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on the grass.

Closing Day highlights will include the Grade I, $400,000 Matriarch Stakes for fillies and mares ages 3 and older at a mile on the green. Admission will be free for those who donate nonperishable food items at bins outside the Stretch Run admission gates. Donations will go to the San Diego Food Bank.

During weekends throughout the meet, college and NFL games will be shown in several pubs throughout the facility for patrons who need to keep tabs on games.

“We’re going to ride the momentum of the summer meet, which we hope will continue well into fall,” Bahr said.

Del Mar racetrack 2021 fall season

- Dates: Nov. 3-28

- Location: Via de la Valle and Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar

- First post: 12:30 p.m.; special post times-11:55 a.m. Breeders’ Cup Friday (Nov. 5); 10:15 a.m. Breeders’ Cup Saturday (Nov. 6); 11 a.m. Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 25)

- Admission (includes parking): Nov. 3-4 and Nov. 7-28: $6 General Admission, $12-$16 Grandstand Seating, discount pricing for children 17 and younger; Breeders’ Cup (Nov. 5-6): Pre-purchased tickets only,

- Parking: Included with pre-purchased tickets, $10 General, $20 Valet; Breeders’ Cup (Nov. 5-6): Pre-purchased passes only (SOLD OUT), off-site parking available at the Del Mar Horse Park

- Information: (858) 755-1141,,