DEL MAR — When the Breeders’ Cup comes to town for the first time in a few months, the Del Mar Racetrack won’t be the only place to see horses running.
Although the event, considered the Super Bowl of horse racing, includes only two days of racing, a series of activities are being planned for the week leading up to Nov. 3-4.
The 35th annual Jake’s Del Mar Beach Fun Run will kick things off Oct. 28 with four horses leading the field when the race begins at 9:30 a.m. west of the beachfront restaurant.
The horses will have professional riders aboard but will not be thoroughbreds and won’t run the entire 5K course.
On Oct. 29 or 30, NBC Sports plans to spend about an hour filming Hall of Fame jockeys and trainers on horseback on North Beach, also known as “dog beach.”
Horses are allowed there, but not on the sand in front of Jake’s. Council members at the Aug. 7 meeting approved a permit that will allow equines on the beach to start the race.
Both events will include conditions to address beachgoer, bystander and participant safety, as well as cleanup. But because the events are still a few months away, the specifics have not been defined.
The requests came from the Del Mar Visitors Association, which has been working “hand-in-hand with the Breeders’ Cup to try to help find promotional opportunities and community opportunities,” City Manager Scott Huth said.
“We haven’t worked out all these details yet on how this is going to work but … so they can do the planning and move forward they’re making this request now,” Huth said. “The staff believes that we can figure out how to do both these activities safely.”
The Jake’s run is a fundraiser for the restaurant’s Legacy of Aloha program that benefits the La Colonia Branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito and Friends of the Powerhouse.
“We’re super excited about this opportunity,” said Jessica Mills from Jake’s. “We’re honored that our little 35-year-old race can be the kickoff event for the Breeders’ Cup festival week.
“We just thought that the pageantry of having these horses start it would be amazing,” she added. “We expect a lot of live television and a whole lot of interest in this. … We’re completely open to whatever we need to do to make sure it’s safe for our runners, people on the beach and for the horses and the riders as well.”
Craig Dado, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s chief marketing officer, said he is open to using two horses instead of four.
Huth said the NBC filming will likely be done in a contained area, preferably in the early morning so it doesn’t conflict with daily activities there even though it is the offseason.
“We’re going to need to do it around whatever dog activities we have out there,” he said.
“Since the beginning of Del Mar Racetrack, when Bing (Crosby) opened it in 1937, horses used to work out regularly in the water there,” Dado said. “Hasn’t happened since 1980. But in the history of Del Mar, all these Breeders’ Cup people are trying to relive that.
“We don’t want to ruffle any feathers if it’s not OK,” he added. “We thought it would be a neat thing. It’s part of our history. … We’re willing to work with you to make sure it’s safe.”
“I think it’s an exciting cool thing to do,” Councilman Dwight Worden said. “And if it’s well-managed and cleaned up, it’s all good.”