While in San Diego, Katie and I headed over to the Del Mar Race Track to meet up with her family that we were staying with in La Jolla. The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club which opened in 1937 is where the famous Seabiscuit-Ligaroti match race was held on August 12, 1938. After a crazy race, Seabiscuit under George (The Iceman) Woolf beat Ligaroti and Noel (Spec) Richardson by a nose.
The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club runs races all summer and fall. This summer they ran from July 16th to September 7th. Each weekend there are 10 races on Sunday starting at about 2:00pm with the last one running at about 6:40pm. Depending on the race there can be anywhere between 7 to 14 horses racing.
We found parking for $10 and made our way toward the entrance which was a little tricky to figure out. We paid our $6 each and arrived inside the event right next to a beautiful fountain. We made our way to the race picture painted tunnel which brings you under the track and to the center where her family was watching the races already in progress.
We found Jim and Sheri and their friends at one of the first picnic tables right by the race track. We watched a race and they they explained the simple way to bet, $2 on race number, horse number to place, show, or win. We each put $2 on a horse the for the next race. There was about 30 minutes between each race which allowed you to decide if you wanted to place a bet or as the people at the race would say, “slap a bet down,” before each race.
All of my horses kept coming in 4th, just out of the running for me to win anything back and I lost about $8 before I decided I wasn’t going to play anymore. However, one of Katie’s horses won 2nd which got her $4 back making her loss only $2 total.
We took a walk around the inside of the race track and stopped at an ice cream booth. It was the best ice cream I had in a long time. Maybe it was just that the day was so hot I needed ice cream to cool down, I’m not really sure, but it was perfectly sweet and absolutely amazing. We continued to explore and found a bunch of children playing on blow-up slides and even having a race track instructed water balloon toss. I was surprised to see how many people bring their children to the race track. I had always thought of it as an upper class adult only experience, but at the Del Mar Race Track it wasn’t like that at all. Then again, I didn’t get to experience the bleachers. It could be completely different over there.
We made our way back to the race track to watch the rest of the races. This time we were a lot closer. The race began and it was a little different than all the rest. As the horses came around the first bend one of them bumped into another and next thing everyone knew one of the jockeys was on the ground. He was ok and was able to scramble off the track before they came around a second time, but the crowd was filled with ohs and eeks when he hit the ground. His horse continued to run around the track all by itself, like it didn’t even realize that its jockey had fallen off. The helpers eventually caught up with it and stopped it without having a hard time. It kind of makes me wonder, what are these horses taught in order to allow them to run the race even though they have left their jockey lying on the ground behind them. Maybe it’s just a herd instinct.
We stayed until all the races were over. They each had a different starting point and they would move the gate in between each race to the new starting position. As the sun got lower there were a few races that started right in front of us. We were able to watch them load the racers into the gate, start out of the gate, and come racing by pretty close, their feet roaring over the ground as they passed us.
With one last race to run we packed up our stuff and headed out to our cars. As gunshot started the final race we realized that none of us came away a winner that day. We weren’t upset, it was still a fun and exciting day and I was just happy to have experienced something new and different.