Del Mar Racetrack is a Thoroughbred horse race track at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in the seaside city of Del Mar, California, 20 miles north of San Diego. Operated by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, it is known for the slogan: "Where The Turf Meets The Surf." It was built by a partnership including Bing Crosby, the actor Pat O'Brien, Jimmy Durante, Charles S. Howard and Oliver Hardy.
When Del Mar opened in 1937, Bing Crosby was at the gate to personally greet the fans.
On August 12, 1938, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club hosted a $25,000 winner-take-all match race between Charles S. Howard's Seabiscuit and the Binglin Stable's colt, Ligaroti. In an era when horse racing ranked second in popularity with Americans to Major League Baseball, the match race was much written and talked about and was the first nationwide broadcast of a Thoroughbred race by NBC radio. In the race, Seabiscuit was ridden by jockey George Woolf and Ligaroti by Noel Richardson. In front of a record crowd that helped make the fledgling Del Mar race track a success, Seabiscuit won an exciting battle by a nose.
By 1940, Del Mar became a summer playground for many Hollywood stars. Between 1942 and 1944 the facility was closed due to the Second World War. Initially, the grounds were used for training by the United States Marine Corp, then as a manufacturing site for parts to B-17 bombers.
The first Bing Crosby Handicap was held at Del Mar in 1946 and that same year the Sante Fe Railroad began offering a racetrack special bringing spectators, bettors and horses to Del Mar from Los Angeles. Throughout the late 1940s and 1950s the track became the Saratoga of the West for summer racing. The track had large purses for many stakes, over half of which were won by the legendary jockey, Bill Shoemaker.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s Del Mar continued to offer high quality racing and continued to be one of the premier racetracks in the country. The track attempted to run a fall meet in the 1960s but later canceled it after getting lackluster results. This allowed for the creation of the Oak Tree Racing Association at Santa Anita race track.
Change marked the 1980s when the infield was opened to spectators and in 1984 Trevor Denman became the voice of Del Mar. The track still offered the best summer racing in the West and continued to grow in purses, handle and attendance.
In the 1990s the track underwent a major renovation. The grandstand of the Del Mar Fairgrounds was demolished and replaced. In 1991 the track ran its richest race to date, the $1,000,000 Grade I Pacific Classic Stakes. The first Classic was won by an impressive three-year-old named Best Pal.