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Let the races begin

DEL MAR — The summer racing season is officially here. Friday marks Opening Day of the Del Mar races — an event highlighted with bets, horses, music and the hats.

With the event opening on a Friday, racetrack officials are anticipating one of the largest crowds ever — somewhere in the 40,000-plus range.

The first post Friday is at 2 p.m.

The 39-day season will host races Wednesdays through Sundays until Sept. 5. The races will be open for Labor Day, marking the race’s Closing Day.

On July 23, California Chrome, 2014’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner will run in the Grade II $200,000 San Diego Handicap.

Gates open Friday at 11:30 a.m.

More than 1,100 parking spots have been reserved at the Horse Park facility, which is just 1.8 miles to the east of the racetrack on Via de la Valle. Parking at the site will be free (general parking at the racetrack is $10) and shuttle buses will run constantly throughout the day to ferry racing fans to and from the track. Visit dmtc.com for more details and full concert lineup.

A lone rider finds some quiet time on the track on Tuesday. Photo by Tony CagalaA rider warms up a horse on the track in Del Mar on Tuesday. Photo by Tony CagalaRiders get horses accustomed to the track on Tuesday. Photo by Tony CagalaThis year's Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist takes a stable at Del Mar with trainer Doug O'Neill. The 3-year-old will be training on the track before running in the Haskell Invitational at Monouth Park July 31. Photo by Tony CagalaA barn hand walks a horse near the stables on Tuesday. Photo by Tony CagalaJesse Jiminez, left, and Jose Juan Osoreo wash down Paquita Coqueta on Tuesday. Photo by Tony CagalaJennifer Paige, left, a horse identifier, checks in one of the horses on Tuesday at the Del Mar Racetrack. Photo by Tony Cagala

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