Near-perfect weather year-round attracts a steady stream of repeat visitors who come to Del Mar to enjoy miles of coastline, two beautiful beaches, the famous Torrey Pines State Reserve, and outstanding dining and shopping in a quaint Tudoresque village, dotted with historical cottages and the finest in innovative architectural design.
Del Mar is the closest you will come to finding a true village atmosphere in coastal San Diego County. Thanks to the vigilant attempts of the populace to keep development under control, coupled with the breezy, relaxed atmosphere of the racetrack, Del Mar has the air of a less harried time in California’s past.
The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and Race Track is open from late July through early September, packing the town with racing buffs. Beginning in November 2014, the Del Mar Racetrack will host an additional 5 week season of horse racing. The Bing Crosby Season goes from Friday, November 7 through Sunday, November 30th. The track is closed on Monday for the both track sessions. The racetrack was built in the 1930’s as the brainchild of local celebrities, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante, and Pat O’Brien. Bing wrote and recorded a song to commemorate the track’s opening in 1937. “Where the Surf Meets the Turf ” is still played before the first race.
When Del Mar opened in 1937, Bing Crosby was at the gate to personally greet the fans. On August 12, 1938, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club hosted a $25,000 winner-take-all match race between Charles S. Howard’s Seabiscuit and the Binglin Stable’s colt, Ligaroti. In an era when horse racing ranked second in popularity with Americans to Major League Baseball, the match race was front-page news, as well as the first nationwide broadcast of a thoroughbred race by NBC radio.
In the race, Seabiscuit was ridden by jockey George Woolf and Ligaroti by Noel Richardson. In front of a record crowd that helped make the fiedgling Del Mar Race Track a success, Seabiscuit won an exciting battle by a nose.
By 1940, Del Mar became the summer playground for many Hollywood stars, including W.C. Fields, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Red Skelton, Ava Gardner, and Dorothy Lamour. Long-time Track boss, Joe Harper, is himself the grandson of film director Cecil B. De Mille.
Many of the jockeys and trainers at the Del Mar Racetrack have reached legendary status as well. Among them are Johnny Longden, who had the record for the most wins at Del Mar until his record was surpassed by William Lee “Bill” Shoemaker in 1970. Laffit Pincay, Jr. is one of our modern-day greats, and notable trainers include Charles Wittingham, Farrell Jones, Robert Frankel and Bob Baffert.
Opening Day is an exciting day at the track. The Turf Club is a fashion event with women in designer couture and fabulous hats, while men are required to wear either sports jackets or suits. Outside the Turf Club, locals and tourists pack the track wearing beach attire.
Located directly on the Pacic Ocean, the track has a one-mile main dirt track and a seven-furlong turf course. In early 2007, a new $9 million Polytrack surface was installed. There is stabling for more than 1,000 horses.
During the off-season, the site of the race track, The Fairgrounds, is home to many attractions including horse shows, trade shows, concerts, and the famous Del Mar Fair, which draws over 750,000 people from mid-June through early July.
“You’d catch ‘em surfin’ at Del Mar”(lyric from Beach Boys’ hit “Surfin’ USA)”
Del Mar City Beach is a sunbather’s paradise, suitable for swimming, body surfing, boardsurfing, surf- fishing, strolling jogging, frisbee, and paddleball. A grassy play area, Seagrove Park, sits on the short bluffs overlooking the beach from the south end. The park, coastal walkway, and beach are separated from town by railroad tracks.
Beyond Del Mar City Beach lies the mouth of the San Dieguito River, which is dry at low tide, and the Del Mar Bluffs City Park. A steep wooden staircase laden with sand leads to a spectacular overlook from the top of the bluff. The 360-degree panorama encompasses the ocean, the racetrack and the town.
Here you will find Dog Beach (known as North Beach by the locals), a haven for dogs and their owners. According to Del Mar Dog Laws; dogs are allowed off leash north of 29th Street Beach to just north of the rivermouth from the day after labor day to June 15th. Between June 16th and Labor Day dogs are allowed in the same area but are required to be on leashes. Owners are asked to clean up after their dog.
To the north, straddling Del Mar and neighboring Solana Beach, is Seascape Shores, a sandy stretch of beach reachable from stairways near the 500 and 700 blocks of South Sierra Avenue. These beaches are popular with locals and tourists and, in season, you might catch trainers working their horses on the beach.
To the south, Torrey Pines State Beach is a coastal beach just south of Del Mar and north of La Jolla. A quintessential Southern California beach, it is at the bottom of 300-foot sandstone cliffs. At the south end of the beach, the Torrey Pines State Reserve offers hiking trails with magnificent ocean views and the rare Torrey Pine trees.
For divers, the reefs just outside the surf zone are teeming with beautiful local sea life, such as urchins, local fish, Pacific spiny lobster, rock scallops and abalone. For even better diving, the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater park starts at the southern border of Del Mar and ends at Point La Jolla off the La Jolla Cove with warm water and excellent visibility.
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