Back to the races: ‘Bing Crosby Season’ returns to Del Mar Nov. 11

Del Mar's Turf Festival will begin on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, and end on Closing Day, Dec. 4.
Del Mar’s Turf Festival will begin on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, and end on Closing Day, Dec. 4.

(Kelley Carlson)

It’s time to raise a glass and celebrate the return of Del Mar’s fall meet.

The seaside oval will reopen for the “Bing Crosby Season” on Nov. 11 and continue through Dec. 4, with a new event on the schedule — Brunch & Brews — and the reappearance of fan favorites such as Uncorked. Races will be held Friday through Sunday, along with Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24), and will include 15 stakes races worth a total of $2.45 million.

“It’s such a unique atmosphere in the fall - we really get the best weather and picturesque days,” said Chris Bahr, Del Mar’s director of events and promotions. “For the Turf Festival (Nov. 24-Dec. 4), we get some really good races and get some Breeders’ Cup entrants — it’s very good racing.”

For the third consecutive year, race caller Larry Collmus will fill in for longtime track announcer Trevor Denman during the majority of the fall meet, with John Lies covering the first weekend.

“We’re so fortunate that we again can call on the services of a first-class announcer like Larry,” said Josh Rubinstein, Del Mar’s president and chief operating officer. “Not only does he do an exceptional job for us in the announcer’s booth, but he’s a plus for our side on the social media scene as well. He brings good energy to the position and, besides, he just loves being here.”

The season’s festivities begin with Opening Day, which this year coincides with Veterans Day on Nov. 11. Del Mar employees who are veterans will be honored in the winner’s circle, and there will also be a presentation of the national anthem. All active duty military and veterans who present valid ID cards will receive free admission, along with Diamond Club members and those age 62 and older (as part of Seniors Day, held every Friday). The featured race will be the $75,000 Let It Ride Stakes, a 1-mile contest on the turf course for 3-year-olds.

The following day — Nov. 12 — will be Uncorked. Guests age 21 and older can sample from more than 100 wines while noshing on gourmet foods and listening to live music in the Seaside Cabana. The $80 early admission ticket grants entry at noon, while the $65 general admission ticket holders may enter at 1 p.m. The tickets for the event — which ends at 4 p.m. — include wine tasting. Proceeds benefit the nonprofit Urban Surf 4 Kids, which helps at-risk and foster children through water and surf therapy. Go to or

The spirited activities will continue on Nov. 19 with the debut of Brunch & Brews, slated from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Seaside Cabana.

“Given that we start earlier in the fall, why not do a brunch party?” Bahr said.

For $35, visitors will receive track admission, a racing program and tip sheet, two drink tickets and trackside viewing access. Beverage selection includes craft beers, mimosas, micheladas and bloody Marys; vendors will be offering fare such as French toast, chicken and waffles, breakfast burritos, tacos and grilled cheese sandwiches for an additional cost. Brunch admission only is also available for $25. To buy tickets, go to

Also that afternoon, students will be congregating on the third floor of the grandstand for College Day. They will receive free track admission with a valid student ID, and discounts on Red Bull items.

Holiday happenings

Thanksgiving week at the seaside oval will commence with the annual Toys for Tots drive on Nov. 20. Free entry will be granted to racegoers bringing new, unwrapped toys to the Stretch Run admission gates. The donations will be given to less fortunate children for Christmas.

The track traditions will continue on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24), as racing will start early at 11 a.m., and a three-course brunch with bottomless beverages will be offered in the Turf Club for $125. The nine-race, 1 1/2-week-long Turf Festival will also begin that afternoon with the running of the Grade III, $150,000 Red Carpet Stakes.

Rounding out the holiday week will be a high-end Handicapping Challenge on Nov. 26. There is a $3,000 buy-in, with $2,000 designated for the live bankroll and $1,000 for the prize pool. At least 100 percent of the total prize pool will be returned in cash and prizes, which includes handicapping contest entries. Contact Bahr at for questions; register at

Weekly ‘specials’

Along with the big events, Del Mar will supplement its schedule with smaller-scale ones that run every week throughout the season. These include:

—Turf Club Fridays: Turf Club admission, table reservation, two drink tickets and appetizer buffet for $125 ($30 for guests younger than 21). Go to

—Daybreak at Del Mar: Visitors can watch morning workouts and enjoy breakfast from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Saturdays in the Clubhouse Terrace Restaurant; Eclipse Award-winning jockey Jessica Pyfer will provide insider insight and answer questions.

—Weekend Handicapping Seminar: Experts will review their selections for the day’s card at 11:35 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays at the Hacienda Room Patio.

—Best Bet: Frank Scatoni and a guest will reveal their “best bet” of the day at 11 a.m. Sundays on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

—Taste of the Turf Club: Turf Club table seat and three-course brunch with bottomless mimosas or bloody Marys on Sundays for $125. Go to

—Free & Fun: Diamond Club members receive free Stretch Run admission, program and seat, plus $5 Coors Lights, Brandt Beef hot dogs and sodas on Sundays. Sign up for membership through the Del Mar mobile app.

—Sing With Bing: A chance to croon track founder Bing Crosby’s “Where the Turf Meets the Surf” in the winner’s circle before the fifth race each race day. Bahr said slots are still available. “You get to sing in front of the grandstand - the mic is all you,” he said. Email

Coming to a close

Del Mar’s fall season will wrap up on Dec. 4, with mandatory payouts and a pair of graded stakes -- the Grade I, $400,00 Matriarch Stakes and the Grade III, $100,000 Cecil B. DeMille Stakes. Patrons who bring nonperishable food items to donate to the San Diego Food Bank will also receive free admission. Collection bins will be outside the Stretch Run admission gates. The food bank’s most needed items include canned vegetables, canned meat, canned fruit, canned soup, cereal, oatmeal and peanut butter.

Del Mar racetrack 2022 fall season

—Dates: Nov. 11-Dec. 4

—Location: Via de la Valle and Jimmy Durante Boulevard

—First post: 12:30 p.m.; special post time-11 a.m. Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24)

—General Admission: Daily-$6, Diamond Club-$3, free for 17 and younger and active military

—Parking: General-$10, Valet-$25

—Information: (858) 755-1141,