SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Thoroughbred racing returned to the Del Mar Racetrack Thursday for its 75th season, with a $100,000 purse.
The Brazilian horse named Hawk's Eyes won the first race over Fit to Rule.
Mr. Candy Bar was third.
The 20th annual hats contest, an opening day fixture in the Plaza de Mexico, featured categories like Best Racing Theme, Funniest/Most Outrageous, Most Glamorous, Best Flowers/All Others, and Best Fascinator -- a wool, lace or feather alternative to a hat.
The top prize in each category is $300, plus a $100 gift certificate from the Studio Savvy salon. Second place is $200 and third place, $100.
A grand prize winner will receive a two-night stay at The Grand Del Mar hotel and dinner for two, valued at more than $1,000, along with a $500 gift certificate from The Village Hat Shop.
The race season runs through Sept. 3 and this year, a 15-date mini-season will be held in November.
"Our fall race meeting starting this year will be totally separate from our summer session," said Del Mar Thoroughbred Club president and CEO Joe Harper. "They will be two different animals. We know our summer meet is a winner -- we've proven it over and over again. And we expect our autumn run can be special, too, in its own way."
The annual highlight of the summer racing season, the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic, is set for Aug. 24.
Races are scheduled Wednesday through Sunday, with the first-race post time at 2 p.m. most days. On Fridays, the first post is 4 p.m.
Admission prices after opening day will be $10 for the clubhouse and $6 for the stretch run on all other days.
The North County Transit District is operating two additional southbound trains Thursday, one of which left the Oceanside Transit Station at 11:30 a.m. and the other set to head out at 6:35 p.m. During the season, the agency will offer a "Pony Express" ticket, which for $11 includes round-trip fare on the Coaster and Sprinter trains, along with the Breeze bus, plus stretch run admission and a free shuttle between the Solana Beach Coaster station and the racetrack.
The racing season traditionally begins on Wednesday but was pushed back a day to prepare the track following the San Diego County Fair.