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“And they're off!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Del Mar Race Track

Del Mar Race Track
just west of I-5 at the Via de la Valle exit, Del Mar, CA
858 755 1141
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Ranked #3 of 21 things to do in Del Mar
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Activities: Dining, Gambling
Attraction details
Montreal, Canada
Top Contributor
151 reviews 151 reviews
41 attraction reviews
Reviews in 43 cities Reviews in 43 cities
97 helpful votes 97 helpful votes
“And they're off!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 7, 2013

What a great experience. Clean and well maintained. The area where you view the horses is just lovely with planted flowers and comfortable benches. On Wednesday, if you sign up at the Diamond Club, entrance is half price - $5, you get a free program, hot dogs and beer (coors light only) is half price. Bring your own water bottle, as that can cost more than beer. Not bad for an afternoon at the races.

Visited August 2013
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Surprise, Arizona
Top Contributor
123 reviews 123 reviews
9 attraction reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
36 helpful votes 36 helpful votes
“A summertime So. Cal tradition”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 6, 2013

If u can't have fun at Del Mar - wowza! The energy is infectious and everyone is pumped to win. Food & drink are pricey but when u go once a year, it's worth it. We have been to other race parks and Del Mar is by far one of the cleanest. Staff is organized and onboard to help w/directions & questions. We had a wonderful time!

Visited August 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Iowa City, Iowa
Senior Contributor
36 reviews 36 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
53 helpful votes 53 helpful votes
“A Day at the Del Mar Races!”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 6, 2013

One of the items on my “bucket list” was to take part in a day at a horse race track. Yeah, I didn’t need to travel to San Diego to do this. I could have done it in Iowa over in Des Moines, but if I did it, and I thought that I would only do it once, then I wanted to do it at a larger facility. I was going to be in San Diego anyway so I thought that I would plan on doing Saturday at the race track in Del Mar.

I purchased my tickets online through the Web site for the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Buying the tickets was not an intuitive process. It looked like you could buy tickets to park your car online, but you had to buy a book of them which got you parking for only $5. I did not need a book since I was only going to go the one time, so I decided to pay for the parking ($10) when I got there. I then purchased admission to the clubhouse ($10 per person) and a reserved table ($25 per person) along the track. The fees quickly added up. Unfortunately their Web site did not give me a discount on the clubhouse admission as I found out later that Saturday was “family day” and admission had been discounted to $8 per person. So, I’m already out $4!

TIP: Check for any discounts ahead of time and if the Web site does not honor them, then buy your tickets when you arrive.

We arrived early that day so we were able to park close to the entrance. We actually were not really that close as there is quite a walk from where we parked until you actually get to the track.

TIP: Arrive early to park closer to the facility and have a shorter walk.

One of the reasons that we got there early was so that we could sit in on the newbie seminar on how to bet. It was mentioned on their Web site and also mentioned in the race book (which we received upon surrendering our tickets when entering the clubhouse) but it was very vague as to where this free seminar was being held. By the time we found it, it was half over. We did pick up some good tips on how to bet. We learned how to bet to win verses place and show.

TIP: No everyone buys a ticket to enter the clubhouse, so the free stuff is located where everyone has access which is to the left of the clubhouse.

GOOD TO KNOW: You will need to make sure that you got your hand stamped when you first entered the clubhouse, because if you leave the clubhouse you will need to present that hand stamp to get back in.

We arrived at the table that we had reserved ($25 per person) and it was not what we expected. It was a poorly designed table that was not very stable with plastic chairs located on an elevated platform out in the sun. The tables were squeezed very tight together, so there was not much space. Every time someone walked by the table the platform moved thus the table moved and drinks spilled (once on our smartphone).

The food and drinks offered were very similar to the style and quality that you would get at a bar (bar food). The service was very nice as the waitress was extremely nice and courteous. The view from the table was terrible as it was at the lowest level of the facility, so you were at track level nowhere near the finish line. To really see anything you had to stand up (which shook the table) or watch the video monitor which you could have done from home.

TIP: You might want to skip the reserved table and just get a reserved seat in the stands of the clubhouse. You’ll have a better chance of being in the shade, have a better view, and it would be cheaper.

I thought I had the betting all figured out. I did not want to leave the table to bet each time so I downloaded and setup their smartphone app where I could bet from it. You must be on their Wi-Fi to bet using the app. But first you must setup an account in advance, which meant that I had to go back inside the clubhouse. Where to setup the account was not intuitive. You must first go to the booth marked “Information” to sign paperwork and get a membership card. Then you have to visit a different booth to use the card that they just gave you to change you pin number, load money into the account and for someone to show you how to add the account to the smartphone app. I loaded $40 onto my card.

I got all this done and in time to return to my table and bet before the first race!

TIP: Bring a pen with you! You will want to mark up your race book and there are no pens there (but everyone seems to have brought one but you).

My enthusiasm quickly diminished once I was back at the table and trying to use the app to place a bet on the first race. The app had all kinds of problems just logging in and attempting to view the race and bet. I tried all kinds of things such as restarting the phone to get it to work. I missed out on betting on the first race due to this issue and the horse that I had picked out won.

TIP: The Wi-Fi may not have good signal strength near the perimeters of the seating areas and you must be on their Wi-Fi to bet.

Not knowing that the Wi-Fi signal was my issue, I headed back into the clubhouse to make a bet on the 2nd race. I tried to use my membership card (which had $40 on it) to bet at one of the automated machines, but was unsuccessful. So, I went to a real person at one of the booths. She asked for my card but told me that the card was only used for rewarding loyal customers and that if I wanted to bet $10 that I would need to give her $10, so I did. I found out later when I checked my card balance that it had dropped to $30. So, how did that happen? I bet $10 on a horse named Excessive Tequila to win (which it didn’t) and I paid $10 in cash for the $10 bet and my card balance also dropped $10. So now I’m out $24 (I lost $4 for not buying my clubhouse tickets in person and I lost $20 on my $10 bet).

For the 3rd race, I went to an automated booth where I inserted my card and got a voucher for my remaining $30 that was on my membership card. I then took that voucher to a different booth where I exchanged that voucher for $30 in cash. Now my membership card was empty. I went to yet a 3rd booth where there was a real person and I bet $10 on Beholder to win. She took my $10. This time, I paid only $10 for a $10 bet.

I won! Beholder won the race and I was happy to go in and collect my winnings. I proudly approached a booth (with a real person) and handed her my winning $10 bet ticket. She then gave me $11. WHAT? All that and I just won a $1.

So now I’ve lost only $23. There were 11 races that day, but I only stayed for the 3 races.
In summation, I would say that I have now experienced horse tracking racing and betting in person. I don’t think that I will ever do it again, but I can say that I’ve done it. Your winnings may vary.

Visited August 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Laguna Beach, California
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Closing day atnthebtrack”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 5, 2013

I may have lost my hard earned wages, but what a super fun day! I highly recommend reserving a table at one of the outdoor restaurant betting areas. I chose Stretch Run Grille (west). The food is just your basic junk food ( fries, sandwiches, nachos...) ... But the ambiance is fun and makes the day comfortable. The horses and jockeys gave us a great show.... Next time I'm betting on my faves based on their appearance - not based on the top picks by the pros. That technique didn't work out so well on closing day. Oh! The female jockeys ran great! That's my review.

Visited September 2013
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Los Angeles, California
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Classy not trashy”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 4, 2013

I noticed a higher level of clientele than other tracks...it was really nice to look out and see the ocean across from the track. A cool breeze flows in...great service at teh table...good food...and damn...a lot of drinking. Oh yeah, the races are fun too.

Visited August 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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