I love horse racing. I find it very thrilling to watch trained, well-bred horses racing for trophies and titles. As my friend and I are going to San Diego for a week off in the last week of April, we are thinking of dropping in at the Del Mar National Horse Show. I have heard it is a hugely popular equestrian competition in San Diego. Del Mar National Horse Show will be at the top of itinerary on San Diego vacation. Still I would like suggestions from people who have heard or attended this event?
If you love horse *racing*, then I'm afraid you're coming to Del Mar at the wrong time of year. The Del Mar Racetrack opens July 18th and runs until September 5th this year. The horse show in April that week will be mainly dressage. If you love ALL things horses, then the show is great But there is no racing that I'm aware of. I don't know where you live, but if you can manage to come back during racing season, I'm sure you would love it. The track is right on the ocean and it's beautiful (not to mention exciting Happy travels!
[ Edit: Edited on 30-Mar-2012, at 14:02 by sprite0226 ]
The way the horse racing season works in southern California is that they rotate the thoroughbred horse racing among three different race courses:
Santa Anita (in Arcadia, northeast of Los Angeles)--which runs from mid-September through mid-April
Hollywood Park (in Inglewood, on the west side of Los Angeles and just 20 blocks east of the Los Angeles International Airport)--their season runs from April 25th to July 15th; and
Del Mar (in Del Mar, just north of San Diego)--which runs from July 15th to September 5th.
Note: There is also "quarter horse" racing in Los Alamitos (southeast of Los Angeles near Disneyland) --but those races only last from 15 to 25 seconds each (each race is 1/4 of a mile long).
Based upon you arriving the last week of April, you should try to rent a car for a day or two and drive north to see the racing at Hollywood Park. Be aware the racetrack is not in the best part of town, so try to park at the racetrack itself rather than at some person's house or driveway (people make money by renting parking spaces at their houses if they live near the race course). To be sure of a spot, get there early--by 11:00 AM with the plan to be parked by 11:30 AM and then in the racecourse area proper by 11:45 to 12 noon. Normally the first post (start of the first race) will be at 12:30 PM--and there are usually nine races each day, with the last one finishing around 5:45 PM or 6 PM
Other things to know: If you plan to bet on a race, buy a local newspaper which will give the odds on each race for each horse and suggest a possible winner--also, an absolute must is to buy a program--which tells the number of each horse, the jockey, which race they are in, the time of the race, and watch to see if there are any late "scratches"--horses that were scheduled to run, but now won't be running. Other people will try to sell you "tout sheets", which are picks by so-called "experts" on who they think will win. You'll see these people in stalls--and they are, by law, not allowed to approach you, but must wait for you to walk up to them. Usually their picks cost $3 and sometimes they are pretty good at this (otherwise they wouldn't stay in business). Lastly, if you are a real expert, buy a racing form at a liquor store close to the track before you arrive, which tells tons of information about the horse--every race they were ever in, how they did--both at the start and the finish and in-between, the race level (how tough the other horses were), etc.
There are five ways to bet--win, place, and show on each race, exacta betting, and pick-six betting. There is also a "daily double" bet allowed where you pick the winner of the first and second race before these races begin. You can look up how each of these work on other sites, so I won't go into them here.
Before each race, you can actually see the horses be saddled up and the owners and managers giving last second instructions to the jockeys if you go over by the paddock area. All the horses will go out on the track and warm up before each race begins.
This really can be fun--especially if you win. I still kid my wife that they only reason she married me is because I picked the big winner (a 10 to 1 shot) in the main race (usually the 8th race of the day) when they held the special "breeders cup" (international championship day of racing) back on our first real date. My win paid for a very nice dinner out that evening--and some shopping/spending money for her at the local mall later in the week.
Have fun--and best of luck.