The Coast News Group
The starting gate makes its way to Del Mar for Opening Day on Friday. Photo courtesy of Patrick Grosse
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Big hats, bright colors, big parties and racehorses

Racing at Del Mar is back.

With Opening Day on Friday, Del Mar Racetrack kicks off its 85th anniversary. The track opened in 1937 with founder Bing Crosby on hand to welcome fans.

The season starts one week later than usual this year and extends a week past Labor Day.

Opening Day is sold out, with attendance capped at 20-some thousand. First post is at 2 p.m. Gates open at 11:30 a.m.

What to look for …

• Track announcer Trevor Denman is back after missing the past two seasons. This alone is worth the price of admission as Trevor is the best horse racing announcer in the country.

• Races are Thursday-Sunday except this weekend (Friday-Sunday) and the last week, with races on Monday, Sept. 5 (Labor Day) but no racing the following Thursday.

• Racing days: 31

• Opening Day stakes: $100,000 Oceanside Stakes

Saturday (11 races): San Clemente & Osunitas Stakes … First post 2 p.m.

Sunday (10 races): Cougar II Stakes and Wickerr Stakes  … First post 2 p.m.

• New jockeys: Ramon Vazquez and Florent Geroux make this year’s Jockey Colony extremely tough and competitive.

• Last year’s leading Del Mar jockey, Flavien Prat, moved his tack to New York and hasn’t missed a beat.

• Pre-parties and post-parties: Quite a few gatherings and parties surrounding Opening Day. Many restaurants are opening early to service the rush prior to gates opening.

And a few high-end parties after the races will keep the momentum of the day popping:

Monarch Del Mar: $200 ticket … L’Auberge, Del Mar: $250 ticket … Valencia Resort, Rancho Santa Fe: $300 ticket.

After the races the action will include a lot of drinking, music and dancing, with an excess of pretty people.

The sheriff’s checkpoints will be out and about. DON’T DRINK and DRIVE.

• Many athletes and celebrities will take part. This is a day to recognize America’s Finest City and the horse town north in Del Mar, among the best racing venues in the country.

• Let’s see a safe season and a great support for “where the turf meets the surf.”

• Weather projection: 80 degrees and bright

• Vibe: Feel Lucky

• Be your best and express. And away they go …

Join us Saturdays, 9 a.m. for RACE & SPORTS RADIO on 1090 AM The Mightier 1090 ESPN Radio.  All you need to know about Del Mar with Tommy D, The Kid, Bob Hutton and Del Mar Clocker Toby Turrell.

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