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The History of Del Mar Racetrack

The History of Del Mar Racetrack
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is one of the oldest and most popular racetracks in the history of American Thoroughbred racing.
It is located at the Del Mar Fairgrounds which is at the small and beautiful city by the side of Pacific Ocean in California. Del Mar has a very rich history and records in horse racing and all its fame started from the Seabiscuit race back in 1938.

Seabiscuit race at Del Mar

Back in 1938, the horse between the top thoroughbred racing duel of the times as Seabiscuit and Ligaroti, which used to draw in about 20,000 spectators to this seaside track. Moreover, it also captivated the nationwide horse racing fans who were listening to the live radio broadcast about the race.

It was a family rivalry which leads these this spectacular race event. Lin Howard, the owner of Ligaroti, was the son of Charles S. Howard who was the owner of Seabiscuit. In previous races, Seabiscuit was victorious, but Ligaroti was also improving very fast and winning three out of the last four starts. So, Lin Howard finally thought Ligaroti is ready to beat the Biscuit and challenged his father for a head-to-head race.

The race was scheduled for August 12th of 1938. There was a record crowd on the grandstand, and Lin Howard also set up a fan cheering section also for Ligaroti. The celebrity among the cheerleaders for Ligaroti was David Butler, a famous director of the TV series of the times. During the race, both horses had a clean break of the gate, and in the last turn, both the horses were only inches apart at the Del Mar track. In the end, both crossed the finish almost stride for stride with Seabiscuit just ahead by a nose. This victory also set a new race record of 1:49 by beating the old record by 4 seconds. This race remained in the talks for many months and rose Del Mar into fame. 

Del Mar Racetrack history

It was the famous singer/actor Bing Crosby who founded Del Mark track in 1937. There were many other Hollywood celebrities too in the executive as Oliver Hardy, Pat O’Brien, Gary Cooper, and Joe E. Brown, etc. In a while, the town has become a favorite spot of the celebrities who flocked to this the seaside track during summer.

Over the coming years, many celebrities like Don Ameche, Betty Grable, Barbara Stanwyck, Lucille Ball, Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor, Desi Arnaz, Charlie Chaplin, and Red Skeleton just passed through the gates of Del Mar, by raising its fame. As discussed above, Seabiscuit - Ligaroti race, as discussed above, was a real break for Del Mar. Del Mar was closed from 1942 to 1944 during World War II, during when the grounds were used for manufacturing the B-17 bomber parts and also to train the marines.

Now, the sound of Del Mar is the South African called Trevor Denman, who took the mike back in 1984 and does the race calling ever since.  The single-day record at the track is of 75201 spectators back on August 10, 1996, on which day the Cigar tried to break a 17th straight victories in the Pacific Classic, but unfortunately was upset by an outsider Dare and Go.
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