Del Mar Racing season is all about the horses but on Opening Day 2016, the seaside track will be all about the hats.
More than 40,000 horse racing fans are expected to attend Del Mar Opening Day Friday, many sporting their flashiest, most ornate toppers for the 22nd annual Opening Day Hats Contest.
This year, the colorful competition takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Plaza de Mexico inside the Stretch Run admission gates. The contest is free to watch and those who are interested in participating can register in advance here. There is no fee to enter the contest, and everyone who takes part will receive two free passes to come back to the racetrack later this season.
One by one, contestants will strut their stuff, showing off their flashy, elaborate hats as they compete to win more than $5,000 in total prizes across five different categories.
Judged on creativity and style, the categories in the contest include “Most Glamorous,” “Best Racing Theme,” “Funniest/Most Outrageous,” “Best Fascinator,” and “Flowers/All Other.”
This year, first place winners in each category will receive a $300, plus a Studio Savvy gift basket valued at $250. Second place winners will walk away with $200, while third place winners score $100.
The biggest winner of the day – the Bing Crosby Grand Prize winner – will receive a one-night stay at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar and a multi-course dinner for two with wine pairings at Del Mar’s lavish Addison Restaurant. This prize is worth more than $1,000.
According to organizers, the Opening Day contest was officially established in 1995. Each year, the competition is fierce with hardcore hat enthusiasts turning out by the droves to show off their creations. Many spend months meticulously designing that perfect hat to flawlessly match their Opening Day attire.
Last year, more than 320 contestants entered the Hats Contest, including a man wearing a giant hat that included a replica of the paddock area at the track and a woman who made her hat entirely out of betting slips she collected from those who lost bets at the horse races during Opening Day the year prior.
For more details on 2016 Del Mar Racing season, click here.
And, for a look at the concerts coming to the Del Mar track this summer, SoundDiego has details on the lineup here.