Del Mar Opening Day: Hat Contest

Towering, photo-ready creations'll serve as a wowza centerpiece at the historic racetrack.

THE OPENING DAY AT A FABLED OVAL? There are always specific traditions to enjoy, from sipping celebratory glasses of bubbly to poring over the ponies' names on the board ahead of watching them take to the track. One of the most visual traditions, however, involves what guests choose to wear to mark the not-so-solemn, oh-so-buoyant occasion. Seersucker suits may make a showing, or a lucky necktie, but the sartorial end of the spectrum belongs to what sits upon the heads of many attendees. Hats, in short, hold high court at some of our country's most fabled mane events, but not just the sorts of chapeaux you'd grab off a rack at the local department store. Many of the hats are custom-made just for the day, and several include a horsey theme of some sort. This isn't just for show, though that's a fun, look-at-that-hat part of it, but for prizes, too, at least at the...

DEL MAR THOROUGHBRED CLUB: Opening day is clip-clopping this way, on Wednesday, July 19, and the head-topping fashion show'll be out in full, festive force at the Plaza de Mexico. There are a quintet of categories to enter, including Best Racing Theme, Most Outrageous, Most Glamorous, Best Fascinator, and Flowers (which is a bit of a catch-all category, as it'll encompass anything that doesn't fit into the first four). The prizes? Think cash or a grand goodie like a one-night stay-over at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar (plus a luxe dinner at Addison Restaurant). Best begin brainstorming the pony-iest of playful hats, the tallest of brim-boasting accessories, and how you'll catch some eyes at the historic horse-loving landmark. Before you make for the club, though, read over the finer points, and eye some past photographs for over-the-top inspiration.

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