A day at the races

What to know before you head for the Del Mar Racetrack

• Head first to the paddock area. Here trainers, owners, jockeys, and horses meet to parade past the crowds before the horses are saddled and led to the starting gate.

• View a few races from the stands, then check out the infield area, accessible through a tunnel from the grandstand and open to all. Watch a turf race (a run on the grass) here and you'll be just a few feet from the horses as they thunder past.

• If you have a party of four, book a table — well ahead — at the unshaded Cafe del Sol, the Stretch Run Grill, or the Clubhouse Terrace Restaurant (858/792-4242 for all). It's more expensive, but you'll have the best seats in the house for the entire day.

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