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Record Crowd Expected At Del Mar Horse Racing Opening Day

The 75th season of horse racing at the Del Mar Racetrack is scheduled to begin today, highlighted by the annual hat contest and the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes for 3-year-olds.

The "One and Only Truly Fabulous Hats Contest'' is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. in the Plaza de Mexico, with a panel of celebrity judges rating lids on style and creativity. Categories include Best Racing Theme, Funniest or Most Outrageous, Most Glamorous, Best Flowers and Best Fascinator, which is a type of headpiece or hair accessory.

The grand prize is two American Airlines round-trip ticket vouchers to anywhere in the United States.

Category winners will receive $300, with $200 for second place and $100 for third place. The Best Fascinator category offers a $100 first place prize.

All entrants will receive two free admission passes for a future visit to the track.

The highlight of the 37-day meet is the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic on Aug. 26. Overall, nearly $7.8 million is available in stakes races.

The Friday concert series will continue this year, beginning with the San Diego-based Wavves this week.

For the most part, racing will take place Wednesday through Sunday, with first post at 2 p.m.

The exceptions are:

-- Fridays, when first post is 4 p.m.;

-- Pacific Classic day, when first post is 1 p.m.; and

-- Labor Day, in which races will take place on a Monday.

The season closes on Sept. 5.

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