Thoroughbreds, cocktails, and hats, oh my! After much anticipation, the 2015 racing season is almost upon us, opening with a bang July 16 and galloping through September 7. If you have never been to races, not to worry, we have you covered with everything from race day etiquette to debutant style tips. Follow our guide to the Del Mar Races to guarantee a positively marvelous day of socializing, mint juleps, and cheering on your favorite filly.

Derby Day 2 small

Photo courtesy of Classy Girls Wear Pearls

Race Day Attire:

First things first, let’s talk fashion. While there is no formal dress code (unless you frequent the Turf Club), there is the unwritten rule that Opening Day race goers should adhere to the utmost display of sophistication and style.

Ladies, think classic dress styles in vibrant feminine shades that hit at or just above the knee. Simply pair with a lovely strand of pearls and stylish clutch. Of course, race day fashion is not complete without a glamorous hat, and in this case, bigger is always better. That is unless you are seated rather close to your fellow racer goer, then it may be better to opt for a smaller brim or fastener. Show off your show-stopping look at the Opening Day Hats Contest where you can enter in one of the following five categories: Most Glamorous, Best Racing Theme, Funniest/Most Outrageous, Best Fascinator and Flowers/All Other. Sign up in Plaza de Mexico located inside the Stretch Run admission gates.

Gentlemen, channel your inner Ralph Lauren model with a linen button down or polo. Add an article of seersucker or plaid to complete the Hampton-esque style—make sure to coordinate your color palette with your gal’s to achieve the ultimate power couple look. If you’re headed to the Turf Club, remember, a sport coat is also required.

Opening Day Schedule:

10am: Pre-Race Brunch- Get the party started with a mimosa or two.

11:30am: Gates Open

2pm: Races Begin

5pm: After-Party -Top off the day with glam party at one of the hottest Del Mar spots.

The Basics

  • A typical race day will feature between 7-10 races with approximately 30 minutes each.
  • Head to the paddock to watch the horses prior to the race.
  • There are plenty of trackside options to grab a Del Mar Starlet or a bite to eat.

Seating

  • There are two sides of the track-Clubhouse and Stretch Run. The Clubhouse side is the closet to the finish line and includes access to Stretch Run. Stretch Run offers lower priced admission.
  • Reserved Seating is offered on both sides starting at $25. Admission sold separately.
  • Reserved Table Seating- Reserve a table that seats up to 4 for all-day access to libations and fine eats.

Betting

Who doesn’t want to hit the trifecta at their first appearance at Opening Day? But why just rely on luck to land you a pocket full of cash, when you can check out the Newcomer’s Seminar, which takes place 1 hour before the first race. Placing bets can be intimating but let’s bring you up to speed with a couple tips.

  • You can place your bets online, via telephone, or at the track.
  • You will need to specify the track and which race you are betting on. You will also the program number of the horse, which can be found on the program you receive upon entry.
  • The minimum “straight” bet is $2 with combination bets as low as $1.
  • Straight Bets:
    • Win: Win $ if your horse wins first place.
    • Place: Win $ if your horse places first or second.
    • Show: Win $ if your horse finishes first, second, or third.

Click here for more information on betting at Del Mar Races.

And with that, we’re off to the races!