Del Mar Thoroughbred Club (Del Mar, CA)
Where the turf meets the surf. Thoroughbred horse racing from Southern California.
(Racing Dates: 07/10/2020 - 09/07/2020, 10/31/2020 - 11/29/2020 )
The Del Mar Fairgrounds is a 370-acre (1.5 km2) event venue in Del Mar, California. The annual San Diego County Fair is held here, which was called the Del Mar Fair from 1984 to 2001. In 1936, the Del Mar racetrack was built by the Thoroughbred Club with founding member Bing Crosby providing leadership.
The Fairgrounds is owned by the State of California and is managed by the 22nd District Agricultural Association, a state agency that hosts more than 300 annual events. Its staff organizes four major annual events, including the annual San Diego County Fair, and runs Surfside Race Place, the year-round satellite horse racing facility.
The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club leases the facilities for their live meets each year. The Del Mar Fairgrounds and Del Mar Thoroughbred Club all share just one address for the entire complex, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar CA 92014.
After the successful opening of the Santa Anita Park racetrack in Arcadia, California on Christmas Day 1934, William A. Quigley, stockbroker, former college football coach, and resident of La Jolla formed the idea of starting a racetrack on the Del Mar Fairgrounds. He successfully pitched this to Bing Crosby, and together they founded the Del Mar turf Club on May 6, 1936.
Quigley would remain General Manager of the racetrack until his death at the age of 49 in 1942. 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 much written and talked about and was 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 fledgling Del Mar race track a success, Seabiscuit won by a nose.
By 1940, Del Mar became a summer playground for many Hollywood stars. Between 1942 and 1944, the facility was closed due to the Second World War. Initially, the grounds were used for training by the United States Marine Corps, then as a manufacturing site for parts to B-17 bombers.
The first Bing Crosby Stakes was held at Del Mar in 1946 and that same year the Santa Fe Railroad began offering a racetrack special bringing spectators, bettors, and horses to Del Mar from Los Angeles. Throughout the late 1940s and 1950s, the track became the Saratoga of the West for summer racing. The track had large purses for many stakes, many of which were won by the famous jockey Bill Shoemaker.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Del Mar continued to be one of the premier racetracks in the country. The track attempted to run a fall meet in the 1960s but later canceled it after getting lackluster results. This allowed for the creation of the Oak Tree Racing Association at Santa Anita race track.
Beginning in 2000, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club 's marketing team went through a major shift in their marketing direction. They realized they had to attract a more youthful audience as well as a female audience. They focused Del Mar as a fashionable destination, using social media and other avenues to market the racetrack.
The majority of ads didn't show horses. They adopted the slogan "Cool as Ever" and created a new brand around "Del Mar Scene". They also hired jockey and model Chantal Sutherland to be the new face of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.
Their strategy worked as over 13 years later Del Mar has changed their demographics and audience attendance. The marketing campaign of the Del Mar Racetrack has become a Stanford business study to see if their strategy could be done at other racetracks.
One of the largest draws each year for the Del Mar racetrack has now become Opening Day with its hats contest and parties.
In March 2013, there was a vote to expand the turf portion of the racetrack. Construction began later in the year, and the work was completed in time for the 2014 racing season. The work included widening the course to 80 feet and softening the curve coming out of the diagonal chute, thus allowing more horses to compete in turf races. The following year, Del Mar renovated the main track, installing El Segundo Sand.
Starting in 2014, Del Mar began to run more racing cards due to the closure of Hollywood Park Racetrack. A fall meet was added, featuring the Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes, Hollywood Derby, and Matriarch Stakes. Del Mar hosted the Breeders' Cup for the first time in November 2017.
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