Big Hats, High Heels and Fast Horses on the 80th Opening of Del Mar Racetrack 2019 by Rachel Ganz
Protests by Animal rights activists aside, the summer 2019 season goes on at Del Mar Racetrack
August 5, 2019
On Wednesday July 17, 2019 31,276 well-dressed men in flashy suits, woman with lavish dresses and extravagant hats came to celebrate and watch the races "Where the Turf Meets the Surf" at the Del Mar Racetrack.
Since July 3, 1937 when Bing Crosby and partner Pat O Brian opened Del Mar, with a vision to create a racing palace by day and a Hollywood party playground at night, a racing legacy was established.
The crowds where quieter than previous years, an aftermath of a Santa Anita race meeting where 30 horses tragically died in either race meeting or training and 24 race cards cancelled. Many people are unaware of Del Racetracks high standards in racing conditions, animal care and safety. In 2018, Del Mar Racetrack had four racing fatalities, for .79 deaths in 1,000 starts. The National average is 1.68 deaths per 1,000.
This was the first time that the aggressive animal rights activists were confronted by counter-protesters who represented back-stretch workers who favored the racing sport, and validated continuation of racing at Del Mar.
The gates opened quickly at 1130 AM, brimming with entertainment and hoopla, including the famous Opening Day Hat Contest, a long-standing tradition at Del Mar Racetrack. One by one, hopeful contestants paraded and flaunted their extravagant, and somewhat crazy hats at the Plaza de Mexico, just inside the Stretch Run admissions gates. These contestants competed in the five diverse categories: "Most Glamorous"," Best Racing Theme", "Funniest/ Most Original"," Best Fascinator" and "Best Flowers" The grand prize winner/ Best Flowers was Allison Karstrand. Prizes varied from a grand prize -a one-night stay at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, dinner for 2, afterparty tickets and a gift basket worth over $1750
Opening Day 10 race program which features the "Runhappy Oceanside Stakes" allows 3 year old horses on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course compete for $100,000 prize. Jockey Flavien Prat rode his horse Jasikan to a victorious photo finish win at the "Runhappy Oceanside Stakes" as the 9-5 favorite.
After this race I briefly greeted Flavien Prat, while petting the beautiful Jasikan, who nuzzled my hand, and appeared to be quite healthy