A day at the races: Firsthand account of Opening Day of Bing Crosby season
by PAIGE FULFER
Published - 11/03/17 - 08:56 AM | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Paige Fulfer poses in the paddock on Opening Day.
Paige Fulfer poses in the paddock on Opening Day.
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Walking through the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club gates, it somewhat felt like the Disneyland of horse racing. I had been to opening day before, but never during Bing Crosby season. There was a different feel in the air this time sophistication, poise, and elegance filled the plaza. Maybe it was the sea of extravagant feather headpieces, top hats, pearl necklaces and polka dot skirts. Either way, I was excited to get inside.

Making my way to the paddock, and to my astonishment, I was followed in by a few horses. Perfect timing. Snapping photos of the horses parading in circles around me, I took full advantage of my all-access pass as I stood on the grass. I hadn’t been this close to a horse since I was 5, and I was immediately brought back to the joys of my childhood. I looked out at the crowd watching the horses from behind the fence, and smiled as I saw couples, families, and friends dressed to the nines! Their cheerful, hopeful demeanor made the day reminiscent of Christmas morning-Del Mar had officially kicked off Breeders’ Cup week, and the city was ecstatic to host.

I turned my attention back to the horses, started assessing each one, feeling out which (if any) I was going to bet on. After getting saddled up, the horses calmly awaited their jockeys. Nerves and tension filled the paddock as the racers made their way into the arena. The spectators became almost silent, as many tried to eavesdrop on the words exchanged between the jockeys, trainers, and owners huddled on the grass. After the handshakes and pep talks, the announcer exclaimed “riders up!” and the trainers helped the jockeys upon their horses. They made a loop in the paddock and headed off to the track.

Since I had 10 minutes to spare before the first race, I headed over to the Hollywood Fashion Contest. The registration table was full of entrants dressed in lavish furs, wide-brimmed hats, black lace gloves, and high heels. The contestants were the perfect mix of vintage Hollywood, glamorous flair, and charismatic Opening Day loyalists. I spoke with a couple running for “Best Dressed Couple.” The Mrs. was decked out in white fur, a black and gold floor-length sequin gown, red heels and matching red gloves, topped with a black-and-gold sequin hat over her adorable pinned-up hairdo.

Her counterpart was suited in a long black coat, a red, black, and gold color scheme, and of course, matching red gloves and a color-coordinated feathered hat. They both accessorized even further with stick horses. Precious!

I wandered to the track and stood back as I watched the first race take off. The adrenaline rush apparently made me hungry and gutsy. After snagging a hot dog from concessions, I decided to place a bet on the third race, I bet on Wild Lando and won a whopping 20 cents when he placed second. Cheers to a great day of winning at Opening Day!
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