Ray’s Best Bets Presented By Del Mar: An Idyllic Dark Day At Torrey Pines

Opening week at Del Mar was a challenge for me at the betting windows. After a chalky kickoff to the meet last Wednesday, when seven of the 10 races were won by betting favorites, the four days that followed offered a greater variety of payoffs. Only nine of the next 33 races went to favorites, with none of them winning on Sunday’s eight-race program.

I avoid short prices, but in races where the favorites lost, I couldn’t land on enough winners to make it a profitable week, zigging when I should have zagged, and skipping races where the horse I liked would ultimately win.

After taking a licking, it was time for a bit of a respite away from the track, an opportunity to reflect, refresh and clear the mind of those bad wagering decisions.

North San Diego County has one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world and there are numerous places to sit atop bluffs and gaze out onto the Pacific. There’s one in Solana Beach just a short walk north from where we stay and another in Seagrove Park to the south in downtown Del Mar.

But I needed to get away from the crowds, to decompress and enjoy Mother Nature for at least a couple of hours.

I opted to hit the hiking trails at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, 2,000 acres of rugged terrain along the coast featuring Torrey pine trees, fresh air and incredible views. The reserve separates Del Mar from La Jolla to the south and is only a few minutes from the track.

The reserve was a gift to the city of San Diego from philanthropist and newspaperwoman Ellen Browning Scripps, who bought the land in the early 1900s, hired naturalist Guy Fleming and asked that the reserve “be held in perpetuity as a public park” and that “care be taken to preserve the natural beauty of the area.”

The Torrey Pines Lodge, now a visitor’s center in the middle of the park along Torrey Pines Park Road, is an old adobe house that Scripps had constructed as a residence for Fleming nearly 100 years ago. It’s worth a stop for the architecture alone.

There are miles of well-marked hiking trails and viewpoints that (along with some steep inclines) will take your breath away. The easiest to negotiate is the Guy Fleming Trail, with a loop of .7 miles that provides ocean vistas, sandstone formations and diverse vegetation. The Beach Trail, about three-quarters of a mile in length, as its name implies leads a hiker to a sandy beach via a very narrow pathway.

The trails may not be for everyone. There’s loose dirt and gravel, uneven footing and some elevation changes that require fairly rigorous exercise. This 65-year-old hiker was challenged but not insurmountably so, as the fresh air, stunning views and solitude were a welcome change of pace.

Hiking trails are well-marked throughout the reserve

At the south end of the reserve is the world-famous Torrey Pines north and south public golf courses that annually host the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open. The United States Open has been played there as well, most recently in 2008, when Tiger Woods defeated Rocco Mediate in sudden death after an 18-hole playoff. The Open returns to the south course at Torrey Pines in 2021.

The South Fork Trail provides views of the golf course, but two trails at the south end of the reserve – the Broken Hill Trail and North Fork Trail are temporarily closed for maintenance.

There is no individual admission charge for the reserve, though there is a fee for parking, which can be at a premium on busy days. I would recommend parking at the North Beach lot along Carmel Valley Road (you can also find free street parking there). That will require a longer hike to get into the reserve, but for those of us who who count steps, it’s an invigorating uphill walk from sea level and the views are amazing. Alternatively, you can park at the South Beach & Reserve Entrance Lot or take the easy way out by driving to the Visitor Center.

Plan to spend at least two to three hours to get the most out of your visit to the reserve, which opens daily at 7:15 a.m. and closes at sunset. It doesn’t have to be a dark day activity and can easily be done on a morning before the races.

For more information, please visit the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve website here.

Not part of the reserve but just a short drive to the south of the two golf courses is the Torrey Pines Gliderport, which bills itself as North America’s most historic aviation site dating back nearly 100 years. Here you can watch hang gliders and sailplanes take off high above the Pacific and soar endlessly over the water. It’s a certainly different kind of “bridgejumping” than horseplayers are used to.  The Gliderport has interesting views from the Cliffhanger Café, which serves sandwiches and snacks. For the more adventurous, tandem flights with trained professionals and instruction courses are available. More information can be found here.

Each week during the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club meeting, publisher Ray Paulick offers his “best bets” on things to do and places to eat and drink during the San Diego-area track’s summer meet.


The post Ray’s Best Bets Presented By Del Mar: An Idyllic Dark Day At Torrey Pines appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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