A Day at the Races

The races at Del Mar

This week we headed down the coast from LA to Corona. The attraction was Legoland for their Brick or Treat party. Our youngest daughter and grandson decided to spend the day there while our eldest and I took the opportunity to visit the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club for their Bing Crosby meet. The race track where “the turf meets the surf”.

My parents were huge horse racing fans so I was fortunate to visit many world class race tracks across the U.S. and in Canada as a girl. This might not be something every kid would enjoy but my brother and I loved it. Horses are such regal and majestic creatures, it was fun for us to follow some of the famous ones and get to travel to their races.

I remember going to the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. I also remember our annual attendance at the Queen’s Plate when we lived in Toronto. Our entire family, including my grandparents, went to see the race the year Queen Elizabeth herself attended. I have many memories of happy times spent with family and friends during these trips. One of the strongest is of Secretariat winning the Belmont by something like 22 lengths. I can remember my dad watching the race and almost running along with this magnificent stallion as he pulled away from the field as though he were the only horse in the race.

Driving down the Historic 101 from Corona we enjoyed the beautiful scenery and downtowns that seemed as though time had stood still. There are a number of quirky little restaurants, coffee bars and bistros to serve locals and tourists alike. Driving along this stretch you can picture what it was like in the 1950’s – in a Cadillac convertible of course, one with the big fins in the back. Of course, I would have needed a flowing scarf to keep my hair out of my eyes and a pair of cat eye sunglasses to complete the picture. I wasn’t born until the 60’s but I can imagine what it must have been like back in the day when Bing Crosby drove down the coast to Del Mar and movie stars would gather for the races.

Beach at Corona

I hadn’t been to Del Mar for years and it didn’t disappoint. My first site of the grandstand and grounds was breathtaking. Its location right on the coast makes it unique among racing facilities and lends to its majesty. The paddock area is very nice and easy to view from the various levels with balconies on the backside of the grandstand. We decided to watch from the paddock itself as the jockeys mounted and then rode through the tunnel and onto the track. This was a favourite spot of mine as a girl. Always cool and breezy and a great place to see the horses up close.

The paddock

We splurged on valet parking, $20.00, but admission was only $3.00 a person since we installed the Del Mar app on our phones and joined their Diamond Club before we arrived. You can get free admission on Free and Easy Sundays for this fall meet from October 29 to November 29.

We decided to buy seats in a box since we weren’t sure how busy it would be and wanted to have a good view. The price was reasonable at $4.00 a seat plus admission. Having a box seat is nice since you get food and beverage service so you can relax and enjoy yourself between races (except for going inside to place your bets but I think you can even do that on a smart phone now.)

Stretch run

A highlight of our afternoon was the Golden State Juvenile. Smokey Image was the heavy favourite but didn’t seem to get a good start out of the gate. He proved his stamina at the end of the race by coming back for the win. He’s a long shot for the Kentucky Derby but fun to watch.

It was a great way to spend the day.

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