Ultimate Guide to the Del Mar Races

Ultimate Guide to the 2016 Del Mar Races

It’s that time of year again. Summertime, yes. But more specifically, it’s time for the Del Mar Horseraces, a favorite around here. We love everything about it, from the Opening Day hats to the thrill of betting (and winning) and the (practically free) summer concert series.

If this is your first horseracing season, you’ve come to the right place. Our guide to the Del Mar Horseraces will help you get your bearings.


Friday, July 15, 2016 to Monday September 5, 2016. (Dark Mondays – except Labor Day – and Tuesdays.)

What to wear

If you go to the Del Mar Races on Opening Day, dressing up is half the fun. Start with a classy (or outrageous) hat, and go from there. Think elegant and summery.

For all the other 38 days of horseracing season, anything goes. But if you’re planning to hang out at the Del Mar Turf Club, you’ll need to follow the dress code:
• Ladies – Suits or daytime dresses. Slacks or tailored denim with tailored jackets.
• Gents – Suit or sport jackets. Sport shirts and tailored denim allowed with a sport jacket. Ties optional.
• Prohibited – Shorts, t-shirts, athletic wear, windbreakers, flip-flops, and ripped, torn, or oversized denim.


Where to lunch or brunch before the races

The first race every day of the season begins at 2:00 pm (Fridays at 4:00 pm), which means you have plenty of time for brunch or lunch beforehand. At IRIS Food & Spirits, we start serving lunch at 11 am, and we’re only 3.3 miles from the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. You can enjoy a leisurely bite to eat with us before you head to the races. Try these pre-race lunch ideas:
• Iris seafood salad – Baby greens, shrimp, scallops and raw ahi sashimi, tossed in a sesame vinaigrette. And to drink: Jacquart Brut Mosaïque Champagne (France).
• Grilled salmon sandwich – Arugula, lemon-caper aioli, red onion, mixed greens and tomato. And to drink: Lemon basil bomb – Tru Lemon vodka, basil, lemon simple syrup.

Seating options

One reason we love the Del Mar Races is because it can be a low-key excursion or you can go all-out. After your $4 to $10 admission (more for Opening Day), you don’t have to spend another dime. It can be just as much fun to sit in the unreserved section and place minimal bets here and there as it is to blow your whole weekend entertainment budget on a trackside table, beer, pizza, burgers, and fries for your buddies. For reserved seating, expect to pay an additional $5 to $25 (more for Opening Day), and for table reservations (for up to 4 people), anywhere from $50 to $300.

Betting basics

ultimate-guide-to-the-races-del-marIf you’re new to betting on the ponies, it can be a little bit intimidating to start. But once you understand how it works, even spending just a dollar or two per race really amplifies the fun.

• Win = Your horse wins first place
• Place = Your horse wins first or second place
• Show = Your horse wins first second or third place
• Daily Double = You pick the winner in two consecutive races
• Quinella = You pick the first two horses to win either first or second place (order doesn’t matter)
• Exacta = You pick the first two horses to win first and second places (order matters)
• Trifecta = You pick the first three horses to win first, second, and third places (order matters)
• Superfecta = You pick the first four horses to win first through fourth place (in exact order)


Where to dine after the Del Mar Races

It really doesn’t get any better than sunsets in in Del Mar. Here at IRIS, you can close out a day at the races by watching the sun set over the Peñasquitos Lagoon at Torrey Pines State Reserve and sipping fresh handmade cocktails, eclectic wine, or craft beer. Our dinner menu features delectable dishes that’ll keep you coming back all season long. Try our:
• Cioppino Iris style – Assorted fish, wild tiger shrimp, jumbo diver scallops, Carlsbad clams and mussels in a mildly spicy tomato broth. Served over roasted Yukon gold potatoes and topped with grilled herb bread. To drink: Turf Club Smash – Malahat ginger rum, passionfruit, lime, ginger beer.
• Iris cassoulet – Free-range bone in Jidori chicken breast, Italian sausage, tomato, pancetta, and Tuscan beans with pepperoncini and sage. To drink: Second Chance Seize the IPA (San Diego).

For music lovers

If you’re more interested in the music than you are in the ponies, you can join us for happy hour before you head out to the Del Mar summer concert series. Monday through Friday, from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, we offer 20% off starters and cocktails, 50% off select wines, and 20%-50% off beers. Stop by and have a drink with us. This summer’s concert lineup includes Cold War Kids, Fitz and the Tantrums, Ziggy Marley, Girl Talk, and more.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, Del Mar horseracing season!

IRIS Food & Spirits, June 22, 2016

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