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Del Mar will welcome the Breeders’ Cup for the second time in four years, last hosting horse racing’s world championships in 2017. File photo
Del Mar last hosted the Breeders’ Cup in 2021. The track will host again in both 2024 and 2025. File photo
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Del Mar readies for Breeders’ Cup spotlight

DEL MAR — The Del Mar City Council and Del Mar Village Association have begun discussing plans for hosting the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, one of the largest horse racing events in the country.

The Breeders’ Cup has been held at different venues every year since 1984 and this year will be the second time Del Mar has hosted the event since 2017.

This year’s championships take place on Nov. 5 and 6 at the Del Mar Racetrack but the city and Del Mar Village Association are planning events throughout the whole week.

“From the 1st of November through the 6th there will be live music downtown and racetrack viewing opportunities,” said Jen Grove, CEO of the Del Mar Village Association. “We’re inviting people from all over the world to come and find out about our culture in Del Mar.”

The 2017 Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar boasted an attendance of over 70,000. The city reported a 45% increase to its transient occupancy tax during the month of the event and sales tax revenue from October through December 2017 was the highest in the city’s history.

While there will be events throughout North County leading up to and during the event, the city and Del Mar Village Association have already been working to keep as much of the Breeders’ Cup-related business inside Del Mar.

“We were able to keep the majority of the events in Del Mar Village and so we’re working hard to make sure that we keep as much commerce local as we can,” Grove said. “We’re working with all of our businesses to do everything we can to keep everything Del Mar.”

The Del Mar Village Association requested and was granted approval for a public signage program that will allow them to post signs and banners throughout the city welcoming race attendees to the city.

Also included in the approved signage program is an allowance for the Del Mar Village Association to install flower baskets on 21 light poles around downtown Del Mar with the same purple color scheme of the Breeders’ Cup.

“We’re kind of painting the town purple, is the idea,” Grove said.

To finish off the decorative aspects of downtown, the village association is working with city staff on encroachment permits for the temporary installation of acrylic horses in front of Stratford Square and outside of Del Mar Plaza.

Based on Mayor Terry Gaasterland’s response, it doesn’t seem as if the association will have trouble getting permits for more horses downtown.

“These horses are great so get as many horse statues out there as we can,” Gaasterland said. “They just spice up the town so much.”

Grove says the Breeders’ Cup and the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club have both worked closely with the village association to help support them in bringing attendees to the downtown area while they are in town for the races.

“I really appreciate how much they have worked with Del Mar Village specifically to be partners and to support us in every aspect of this event,” Grove said. “They have been true partners. I think this is going to be a wonderful event and I’m hoping it paves the way for this to come back every couple years.”

With tourism revenue down during the COVID-19 pandemic, the city could not have asked for a better time for the event to return to Del Mar to bring much-needed visitors and attention to the city.

“I just think this is outstanding. I think it’s a great win for Del Mar to be having this,” Councilmember Dan Quirk said. “This is just a really fantastic event for the city.”

The city and the Del Mar Village Association have both taken the stance that this international event is the time to show off their city to the entire world.

“Del Mar is definitely going to be showcased around the world,” Grove said.