Del Mar Racetrack “Where the turf meets the surf” opens on July 17

Del Mar trackThe 2014 Del Mar Turf Club racing season starts on July 17 and this means the famous seaside track where “the turf meets the surf” will be filled with fancy hats, horses, and concerts.

Opening Day will be on Thursday and is expected to draw at least 45,000 revelers decked out in dresses, suits and, of course, big, colorful hats.

The annual “Hats Contest” will celebrate its 20th anniversary, so seriously top-notch toppers are certainly expected.

Besides the horse races, the Del Mar Races will also boast an array of food, family-friendly activities, racing seminars and the annual Summer Concert Series. Lots of extra events to choose from.

Del Mar attendees can also expect a couple of beer festivals this meet. They are scheduled for the San Diego Craft Beer Feston July 26 and the International Beer Fest on August 24.

Track snacks include a Donuts and Del Mar” event is set for both July 19 and Aug. 13 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. You can have a behind-the-scenes look into the world of Thoroughbred racing from a track announcer and attendees will be treated to free coffee, orange juice and donuts. Jockeys and trainers will be on hand to answer questions while the horses partake in their morning workouts.

On Aug. 16, the track will host the 4th annual Gourmet Food Truck Festival featuring eats from 50 food trucks from the San Diego and Southern California area.

For those who also enjoy wiener dog racing as much as horse racing, the Del Mar track will also host the Wienerschnitzel Wiener Dog Nationals on Aug. 30. The 16 fastest pups will compete for the title of top dog in San Diego County. The winner advances to the National Final.

By the way, if the turf looks a bit different this meet, it’s because it is. Del Mar will debut its brand-new seven-furlong turf, a wider racing surface that accommodates more horses. The new and improved turf helped make Del Mar eligible for to host the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Championship.

Now on to the horse racing – racing takes place Wednesday through Sunday each week, with post time for the first race usually set for 2 p.m., except on Fridays when first post is at 4 p.m. The track is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. The final day of Del Mar Racing is Sept. 3.

Will this 2014 Opening Day at Del Mar break its attendance record from August 10, 1996, when the race track hosted its largest crowd of 44,181 spectators when Cigar went for his 16th straight win?