Hats sunshine, more hats, ponies, beer, hats and maybe a five dollar win ticket? This is what a day at Del Mar is all about! Opening day at Del Mar 2011 was a good time, but I would never, ever do it again. It was truly, a madhouse. 46,000 people showed up for one over cast day of betting on the ponies. Del Mar is not a huge facility’s like Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia and shoving thousands of sweaty mostly drunk Californians into a small area like this SOUNDS like a recipe for disaster. Maybe it was the salty sea air, but everyone seemed to be getting along just fine where the turf meets the surf. I kind of expected a drunken brawl to break out at one point while waiting in a angry crowd of people to enter the park.
The racing world has been crying out for years for Del Mar to host the Breeders Cup, the World Series of horse racing held every fall. After yesterdays debacle, I could never, ever see this happening. For one thing there is one main admission point to get into Del Mar, not seven or eight like Santa Anita. This means, that this whole huge mass of people is all crammed into this one tiny area like 46,000 sardines, while trying to shove cash into the hands of the 10 attendants on duty. This part of the day? Pure hell. At least it was over cast down by the beach and relatively cool, as we were packed shoulder to shoulder for like an hour with all these people as every one tried to get into the park. Then the puking started.
It seems that everyone had been tail gating before hand in the parking lot. (We had brought some beer to tail gate, BUT we noted the posted no tail gating sign and declined to break the law this day) So there we were shoulder to shoulder with thousands of people in a increasingly angry crowd, in a “line” that had been unmoving for forty five minutes, when one of the fancy hat wearing sorority girls in front of us starts puking. What was totally unfair is security let her into the track to go to the nearest bathroom! This is when I declared that the secret to getting into Del Mar this day was to be bulimic. So then we waited another fifteen minutes or so, trying to ignore the purple puke, as other Louis Vutiion clutching sorority girls marched through the puke in their Manolo’s, shrieking over their puke purple stained heels, of course.
|Jockey Chantel Sutherland getting instructions from
the paddock before the race
After the purple puke incident we were almost to the front of the line and we soon found ourselves hustled in through the gates of Del Mar with thousands of other sweaty, annoyed Californians… And we hadn’t even lost any money yet! We were handed free programs and we wondered over to the paddock to check out the little two year old fillies for the fourth race. Two year old’s are babies in the horse racing world, and these one’s were cute, little and really expensive. The thing about Del Mar is sheiks and celebrity chefs alike run their prize horses here.On any given day you are bound to see some really expensive horse flesh; horses worth well over a million dollars. Bobby Flay had a horse running in the sixth race.
|Trainer John Sherrifs and Mr Commons before the big race|
After picking out, what I thought was the best looking of the fillies, we grabbed some cold beers and headed up to the fourth floor to meet up with our buddy Ryan. I’ve learned the hard way the race track is a more fun experience when you go with guys. That’s why I choose to go with Ryan and Jason on this cool, over cast July day. Girls just like to sit around gossiping, the guys get into the races and the horses, betting with me and having a good time. Girls tend to not even stop talking even when the race starts. Its annoying.
Even with all my advance handicapping, I lost money on the first two races. I was getting a little discouraged. The good news was we were having a great time on the fourth floor! While people were packed shoulder to shoulder down below and on the apron of the track, we were living like kings on the fourth floor! There was this little room in the back that was hardly ever used and we always sat up there every time we came to the track. We had a balcony with chairs over looking the paddock below. When the race started, we just walked across the grand stand out to the front and we could stand right behind the owner’s boxes over looking the finish line. Then when the race was over and our tickets were ripped up…
As you can see….
The eighth race of the day was the feature race of the day, the Ocean side Stake’s for three year olds. I was excited to see MR Commons running in this race. I had been at the track the day he broke his maiden by five lengths on the turf. Turf horses rarely win by that kind of margin. This race would be Mr Commons return to the grass surface. He had ran last in the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness at Pimlico. I got some great pictures of Mr Commons and his trainer John Sheriffs in the paddock. I decided to go big on this race. Okay going big for me is betting five dollars to win instead of my standard two dollar bet! Good thing I did! Mr Commons past the other horses like they were standing still along the far turn and I finally got to win a little money!