By Catlin Dorset
7.17-9.3: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
Location: Del Mar Race Track
Say "neigh" to working on Opening Day and attend one of summer's biggest parties instead. It's thoroughbred racing season once again - time for big hats, big winnings (and losings) and wearing your best duds for nine weeks of day-drinking where the turf meets the surf.
7/17: Opening Day
More than 45,000 race fans will pony up to place bets on their favorite steeds and compete for cash and bragging rights in the 20th installment of the Opening Day Hats Contest.
7/17: CLUB 1540 Opening Day Afterparty
For just one night, Kitchen1540 transforms into a very exclusive, limited access, nightlife experience; CLUB 1540. Live musicians and celebrity disc jockey DJ Naka G provide a spirited vibe, while avant-garde dancers, sophisticated lighting and décor, and celebrities round out the scene. This will be the party of the year!
7/18-8/29: Del Mar Summer Concert Series
Every Friday night (and some Saturdays) after the races, racetrack ticketholders are invited to attend free concerts including The Cult (7/25), Weezer (8/2), Steve Aoki (8/29) and many more. (See July's concert calendar)
7/26: Craft Beer Fest
Taste sudsy samples of more than 100 craft brews, including 40-plus local award-winners. Five seven-ounce tastings cost $18.
8/2: Western Regional Chili Cook-off and Salsa Contest
Taste free samples of chili and nominate the ones that should advance to the 2014 World Championships, then stick around for the post-race Weezer concert.
8/16: Gourmet Food Truck Festival
Fifty of SoCal's finest food trucks park it at the track to delight diners at a discount. Proceeds benefit Meals on Wheels.
8/24: Pacific Classic Race Day
Some of the country's top horses, jockeys and owners compete for a $1,000,000 purse during Del Mar's most prestigious race.
8/31: Reggae Fest
Ziggy Marley headlines; free attendance with racetrack admission.