Eight members of the 22nd Agricultural District had a vision for a county fairgrounds to be located in Del Mar, which set the town on its current path. These eight intrepid visionaries were successful in purchasing the current site with a $25,000 grant from the State Department of Fairs & Expositions and the first county fair was held in October 1936. Even before the first fair was held, it was felt that the addition of a racetrack to the fairgrounds, Would be an asset and would be self-supporting. Since 1937, there's been no better place to spend your summer days than at beautiful Del Mar.

Since 1937, there's been no better place to spend your summer days than at beautiful Del Mar. Because of the climate and the seclusion the area offered, film stars were frequent visitors to the area. Among them was Bing Crosby, who was a racing enthusiast, and he turned out to be instrumental in the development of the Del Mar Racetrack.

He and the fair board agreed on a lease arrangement with the newly created Del Mar Turf Club for $35,000. Serving on the Turf Club's first Board of Directors was Bing Crosby as President, Pat O'Brien as Vice President, with Oliver Hardy, Joe E. Brown, Gary Cooper, Leo McCary and others serving on the executive boards.

The initial funding met with repeated setbacks and Bing Crosby and Pat O'Brien put up personal loans against their own life insurance to the fair district without interest at one point. When the Del Mar Racetrack opened on July 3, 1937, Bing Crosby was there to greet the first horse fans through the gates at Del Mar.

The track enjoyed moderate success from its opening, but the race that put Del Mar on the map was a race pitting Seabiscuit, from Charles Howard's stable, against the best thoroughbred of the day, Ligaroti. Seabiscuit won and set a new record for the distance in that race.

Another season of Thoroughbred racing by the sea is about to begin! Wednesday, July 21, is Opening Day at Del Mar, with premier racing everyday except Tuesdays through September 8. Experience for yourself the classic seaside setting that has played host to such memorable events as the unforgettable match race showcasing the legendary Sea Biscuit and the unbelievable upset for the phenomenal Cigar! History is always in the making at Del Mar - the nostalgia of yesteryear with all the excitement that only Thoroughbred racing can bring.

1998 -- Del Mar crowns a couple of new kings -- trainer Ron McAnally and rider Laffit Pincay, Jr. The former pulls the cinch on his 375th Del Mar winner, surpassing the long-held standard for most seaside victories set by Farrell Jones, while Pincay -- overcoming an injury that had him on the sidelines for most of the meet -- registered tally No. 890 to go past the shore oval's previous riding champ, Bill Shoemaker. The attendance and handle continue to ride high, while Mr. Triple Crown (Bob Baffert), Corey Nakatani and Golden Eagle Farm are respectively the best of the best in the trainer, jockey and owner ranks. The flashy grey/roan Free House collects the biggest prize of the season in taking the $1-million Pacific Classic.

1999 ­- Golden Eagle Farm (John and Betty Mabee) wins its sixth owners' title, eclipsing the famed Elmendorf connections as Del Mar's winningest owners ever. Leading the Golden Eagle '99 charge is the white-footed whirlwind General Challenge, who romps in the rich Pacific Classic. Trainer Bob Baffert accomplishes an amazing feat when he wins all five of the track's Grade I races, four of them with leading rider David Flores in the boot.

2000 ­- For the 10th year in a row, Del Mar and its satellites top the nation in daily average attendance (27,960). Robert Frankel does it again (!) when he saddles Skimming to take the Pacific Classic for the trainer¹s fifth win in 10 runnings of the $1-million race. Bob Baffert captures his fourth straight conditioning title and rising star Victor Espinoza is champion rider. And it all gets seen on the track¹s new video boards in the infield and the paddock.

2001 -- There is talk of changing the race name from the Pacific Classic to the Robert Frankel when the Hall-of-Fame trainer does his deja vu magic with Skimming for an unprecedented sixth win in a particular $1-million race. The victory helps Juddmonte Farms become the first Del Mar owner to top $1 million for a season ($1,150,954). And it's that Bob Baffert fellow as champion trainer once more, while Alex Solis goes back on top among the riders.

2002 -- The track loses one of its great leaders when John C. Mabee passes at age 80, but carries on the tradition he helped put in place, including his grandest idea of all: the $1-million Pacific Classic (captured this year by the 3-year-old ace Came Home). Daily average handle goes to an all-time high ($12,351,679); a rejuvenated Patrick Valenzuela wins a riding title for the first time in more than a decade; Bob Baffert takes his sixth straight training title, and The Thoroughbred Corp. captures its first owners crown.

2003 -- Del Mar was saddened with the passing of two of its riding stars, John Longden and Bill Shoemaker. South American ace Candy Ride sets a track record (1:59.11) in winning the Pacific Classic. The betting goes higher still with another record season ($570,903,890). Bob Baffert and Pat Valenzuela are the training and riding champs again, and Valenzuela and Hall of Famer Julie Krone - making a big splash in her first season at the shore - put on a match race for the ages with P Val winning it by a whisker.

more Del Mar Horse Racing History here


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