Del Mar draws sellout for opening day
Del Mar's 84th summer meet begins Friday with a sell out and the traditional opening day features — the hat contest in the Plaza de Mexico and the Caesars Sportsbook Oceanside Stakes.
"This will be the third year we've capped attendance on opening day and the feedback we have received from our fans over this time has been overwhelmingly positive," said Del Mar CEO Joe Harper.
"A sell-out crowd where everyone has easier access to wagering, food and beverage and other amenities is the right way to get our 84th racing season off to a strong start."
The hat contest will be from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. with hats judged in four categories — best racing theme, most glamorous, best fascinator and best flowers. Fans can win a share of more than $4,000 in prizes.
The $100,000 Oceanside Stakes has drawn a field of 14 3-year-olds for the mile race on the turf course. Escape Artist is the 7-2 morning line favorite following a victory in his last race, an allowance optional claiming race at Santa Anita Park June 11 under Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, who is set to ride him again Friday.
Escape Artist has finished in the money in all five of his career starts.
Classical Cat is the second choice at 4-1 in his first race since winning the Eddie Logan Stakes at Santa Anita Dec. 30. The son of 2017 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf winner Mendelssohn is seeking his fourth career victory in five starts.
The Oceanside Stakes will be run as the eighth race on the 10-race card.
Gates will open at 11:30 a.m. and the first post is at 2 p.m.
Del Mar is also bringing back fan favorite events to the track this year with highlights including:
— July 22: Beer Fest, with more than 50 brews, ciders and seltzers;
— August 5: Taste of New Orleans, with hurricanes, frozen daiquiris, and dozens of other popular local and regional craft beers, as well as authentic Cajun cuisine including gumbo, po'boys, beignets, red beans & rice and jambalaya and performances by Theo & the Zydeco Patrol and the Bayou Brothers;
— Aug. 19: Uncorked: Del Mar Wine Fest with tastings of more than 100 wines from across the globe along with gourmet food from local San Diego food vendors;
— Aug. 26: Del Mar Taco & Beer Festival featuring local breweries as well as tacos prepared by local food vendors;
— Sept. 3: Family Fun Day, allowing fans to bring their family to the cabana to enjoy free attractions including face painting and kid-friendly games; and
— Sept. 9: College Day: College students with identification will be admitted free and receive exclusive access to grandstand seating.
The meet's richest race, the $1 million Pacific Classic, will be run Sept. 2.