Del Mar California Horse Tracks
In the late 1930's, famous movie star and singer Bing Crosby set out to follow his dream of building a horse track at Del Mar in the cool Pacific Ocean breezes. Bing wanted a club where he and his friends could bet the horses all day and party all night. Thus was the Del Mar Horse Track born and built.
When the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and race track opened, Bing himself took tickets at the gate and welcomed race fans to what was to become one of the most famous race tracks in the United States, visited by race fans, horse owners and sports enthusiasts from all over the world.
In August of 1938, the famous-to-this-day race that put Del Mar on the map took place - the match between Seabiscuit and Ligaroti. Remember, this was a time when only baseball was more popular than horse racing in the American sports psyche. The race was major front page news in the sports sections of major daily newspapers all across the country. Seabiscuit won this hugely important race in front of a record crowd. The Del Mar Race Track went on to become one of the most famous racetracks in the world.
Between the years of 1938 and 1942 the Del Mar horse racing track entertained Hollywood personalities and celebrities Mickey Rooney, Desi Arnaz , Lucille Ball, W. C. Fields, Douglas Fairbanks, Paulette Goddard and Ava Gardner. A famous comedian of the day, Joe Frisco, spent a fair amount of time and money in Del Mar. He played on his reputation as the consummate track loser with lines like: "I went to the track Monday but it was closed, so I just shoved the money under the door."
From 1942 to 1944, Del Mar was shut down when the U.S. plunged into World War II. In the early war years it was a training base for the U.S. Marine Corps, then used as a manufacturing site for B-17 bombers. After the surrender of Japan in 1945, President Truman declared August 15 a national holiday and 20,324 patrons attended Del Mar to bet whopping $958,476, a Del Mar record.
In 1946 the Santa Fe Railroad began offering a race track special to bring spectators, bettors and horses to Del Mar from Los Angeles. Greeting the train (the "racetrack special") at the train station became a popular tradition for Del Mar residents. Today, in 2009, more than seventy years (and sixty million dollars in improvements) later, the racing season begins on July 22 and extends through September 9.
Terry Hunefeld retired several years ago as a president of a training company to spend time hiking California's mountains. Hunefeld and Ann Dunham operate a lovely B&B Inn next to Moonlight Beach just up the coast highway from Del Mar. For more info, click Bed and Breakfasts in Del Mar or Del Mar Beach Hotels.