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Del Mar Racetrack

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Del Mar Racetrack

Del Mar Racetrack by Kenneth M. Holtzclaw and the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

Arcadia Publishing

The Bottom Line

Founded by Bing Crosby, Pat O'Brien, and Bill Quigley, Del Mar is the premier summer race meeting in California. In this latest edition of Arcadia Publishing's "Images of Sports" series, Ken Holtzclaw and the staff of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club collaborated on this photographic tribute to one of America's great racing venues. Any racing fan, especially one who enjoys California racing, will enjoy this unique look at the history of the place "where the surf meets the turf."
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  • An excellent photographic tour of Del Mar history
  • Depicts many of the Hollywood celebrities that enjoyed the races there
  • Extensive coverage of the great John Longden and of course Seabiscuit


  • We found no fault with this work. This is a fitting tribute to a great racing facility.


  • Since its inception in 1937, Del Mar has served as a playground for Hollywood celebrities.
  • Co-founder Bing Crosby himself took tickets from patrons at the gate.
  • Everyone from Walt Disney to Greta Garbo came out to enjoy the races and sign autographs for fans,
  • The San Diego County Fair is held on the track's grounds and in neighboring Old Del Mar.
  • Miss San Diego and Fairest of the Fair in 1958 was Raquel Tejada Welch, who went on to stardom.

Guide Review - Del Mar Racetrack

Del Mar is the place "where the surf meets the turf" according to the song written by co-founder Bing Crosby, a resort where he and his fellow Hollywood elite can come down to enjoy the cool ocean breezes in August. The elite of the entertainment world came to see the elite of the horse racing world, as top jockeys John Longden and later Bill Shoemaker and Laffit Pincay Jr. called it home. As well, the great Seabiscuit defeated his stablemate Ligaroti in a match race at Del Mar. In this photographic tribute to Del Mar, many of these people can be seen enjoying the competition, either on the track or amongst themselves in the betting ring.

From December 1941 to July 1945, World War II forced the shutdown of racing in California, which made for a convenient point for dividing the first two eras of Del Mar. The post-war period was when Del Mar truly flourished as the place to see and be seen in the racing world. Johnny Longden is given his own chapter, with photos of his childhood, his illustrious career as a jockey, and then as a trainer. Later, the old grandstand was rebuilt to its current configuration, ushering in the third era in the track's history. Cigar shipped over from his New York base to try to break Citation's record for consecutive wins, only to lose to Dare and Go in the 1996 Pacific Classic.

This book is an easy read given its design with over 200 photographs, but readers will definitely want to read the detailed captions that accompany each photo.

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