DEL MAR (CNS) - The 76th season of horse racing at the Del Mar Racetrack will get under way Wednesday, highlighted by the annual hat contest and the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes for 3-year-olds.
The 19th "One and Only Truly Fabulous Hats Contest" is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. in the Plaza de Mexico, with a panel of celebrity judges rating on style and creativity. Categories include Best Racing Theme, Funniest or Most Outrageous, Most Glamorous, Best Flowers and Best Fascinator, which is a type of headpiece or hair accessory.
The grand prize is two American Airlines round-trip ticket vouchers for use anywhere in the continental U.S. that the airline flies, plus a $500 gift basket from Studio Savvy.
Category winners will receive $300, with $200 for second place and $100 for third place. The Best Fascinator category offers a $100 first-place prize.
All entrants will receive two free admission passes for a future visit to the track.
"Each year more women and men wear hats to make a fashion statement -- and not just on Opening Day," said Julie Sarno, the coordinator of the contest. "The Opening Day hats are the most fun and over the top, but any day of the race meet one sees men wearing fedoras and women wearing fascinators and hats to complete their outfits."
The one-mile Oceanside Stakes will be the ninth race of the day.
The highlight of the 37-day meet is the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic on Aug. 25.
Overall, nearly $7.8 million is available in stakes races. Five stakes races will serve as preludes to the Breeder's Cup, horse racing's annual fall bonanza, which will take place this year at Santa Anita in Arcadia,near Los Angeles.
The Friday concert series will continue this year, beginning with the B-52s this week.
For the most part, racing will take place Wednesday through Sunday, with first post at 2 p.m. The exceptions are:
-- Fridays, when first post is 4 p.m.;
-- Pacific Classic day, when first post is 1 p.m.; and
-- Labor Day, in which races will take place on a Monday.
The season closes on Sept. 4.