Photo by Abrowncoat / Wiki Commons


Everybody's a fan of our local Major League Baseball team in early April. It doesn't matter if the team languished in last place the year before—during preseason training camp, hope springs eternal. Opening Day at downtown's Petco Park will always be a 42,000-plus sellout—especially if the hated Los Angeles Dodgers are on hand for the game. A cynic might say the Padres' Opening Day is for fair-weather fans and corporate parties, and that may be partially true. Fact is, though, baseball's Opening Day is a precursor to spring and summer; a rebirth not just of pennant races but of flowering plants and our desire to escape the early darkness that comes with winter. The first home game of the new season is a time to once again taste a Friar Frank loaded with ketchup and mustard, and crack open peanuts while tossing the shells onto the concrete beneath your seat. Casual fans can stroll through the Park at the Park and wonder what new concession options will be available. And hardcore fans can get their first up-close look at new rookies and see if veteran players have yet to lose a step. Play ball.

Photo by Dirk Hansen


Maybe you like to study and bet the ponies. Or maybe you like the over-the-top celebration of throwback glitz and glamor that arrives each July when the Del Mar Racetrack unlocks its paddocks for three months of thundering hooves and photo finishes. Either way, the track's Opening Day isn't just an event—it's a happening; a force of nature. Each year, more than 40,000 people are compelled to show up for the first local running of the sport of kings. Many people pull out their finery and dress to impress. Millinery is a big deal, especially for the women who will vie to win the Opening Day Hat Contest in categories such as Most Glamorous, Funniest/Most Outrageous and Best Fascinator. For some, the prime place to score a spot to watch the races is in the exclusive Turf Club, where suits are mandatory for gents, who are often accompanied by "nieces" competing in an unofficial but not-so-subtle Best Décolletage contest. That's fine and dandy—but there's also plenty of excitement down by the track, where the railbirds cheer and curse as the horses gallop toward the finish line.



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