Del Mar Racetrack: Opening Day

The storied pony place debuts with big hats and fast manes.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Del Mar Racetrack
    The 2013 season at Del Mar Racetrack opened on Wednesday, July 17.

    Old Hollywood glamour is very much associated with, well, Hollywood, surprise surprise, but movie stars of the '30s and '40s often went farther afield to work and play.

    One of the stars' favorite spots? It's to the south and still boasts oodles of vintage glamour. It's Del Mar Racetrack, of course (something you may have already guessed from the words at the top of this post). It's a place with more Hollywood history than some spots in LA, given the fact that Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante, Lucille Ball, and Ava Gardner were fans. In fact, many celebrities have traveled down the Golden State Freeway to the watch horses run at a good clip, meaning the San Diego-close destination, which opened in 1937, and Tinseltown share some solid, wayback ties.

    That waybackness is on full display on opening day, which is Wednesday, July 17. That's when the big hats -- and we do mean big, big hats -- come out and the fancy dress. Cocktails and other swankery is part of the event, although a sense of swankery lasts throughout the season.

    Oh, and of course, those famous Thoroughbreds that have become synonymous with the landmark track.

    Thinking of heading south during Del Mar's run, which clip-clops through Sept. 4? Here are a few handy, horsey to-knows:

    1. While the main action is on the track -- tempted as we were, we did not type "mane," please note -- a beer festival, a gourmet festival, a food truck to-do, and a grill party dot the summer. As anyone who has been to a race can confirm, one frequently sips and sups between the last finish line and the next start.

    2. Concerts are popular, too. "Popular" meaning very well-attended, so early tickets are advisable. The B-52s, Steel Pulse, and Weezer are three of the acts on the 2013 calendar.

    3. And if you don't want to do the train there-and-back thing, like many people do, local inns and hotels have racetrack-oriented specials on. Even if they don't, bet you'll find other fans staying during your time there, which can lend your time away from the track with a convivial air. Check out Rancho Valencia, L'Auberge Del Mar, and Hotel Indigo.

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