Last week I traveled out to California and attended the opening race at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club racetrack. Daktronics has installed several different displays there over the years, but this year they added 3 new displays. There is a double-sided marquee on the outside that was being used to show upcoming events, another single-colored message center used to help direct traffic, and then the crown jewel – a new 21ft by 35ft 8mm main video display in the center of the track.
Before this year, the racetrack used one of our 10mm portable displays that they could take down and move around the grounds for various other events. Along with the new display being permanent, the video looks a lot better by having the 8mm line spacing; it increases the amount of resolution on the display. This is also one of our new SMD displays that are able to reach a higher brightness to make sure that when the sun is shining down on it that you can still see the content, no problem.
When I first arrived at the track, I saw the new displays on the outside, got my credentials and headed into the track about 45 minutes before they opened the doors for everyone to come in. I walked in the paddock area first and saw 3 of our displays there that had been installed over the past couple of years. Being new to horse racing, I wasn’t quite sure what the paddock area was. I found out it’s where the horses are walked around so everyone can evaluate how they are looking/behaving right before they are lead out to the track for the race. So the displays in that area help show video of what’s going on in the racetrack, and what horses are currently being shown in the paddock area.
After taking pictures there, I headed down the tunnel and out to the track. I saw our new 8mm main video display and it looked fantastic! I then saw our 16HD display on the left side and originally thought it was several different displays because of how the content looked. It took awhile for me to actually realize that each piece of content was on one big display; it had been zoned out for various types of content to make it look like it was up against a brick wall (see the picture below, that will do it more justice than I can by trying to explain it).
As the racetrack opened up its gates and everyone started filing in, I realized what everyone always talks about when it comes to these large horse races, and that is…floppy hats. I’ve never seen so many different types of hats in one location in my life!
Watching the various races throughout the day, I realized how important it is to have a display in the infield to keep track of what is going on. These displays were used to show which horses were scratched from races that day, close live video of the horses as they are getting ready for the race, what the betting odds were for each horse, and my personal favorite – showing what position each horse is in during the race.
The racetrack is really big, and during a race, it gets hard to see who’s in the lead when they are on the opposite side of the track. Our displays are able to connect with a timing system that has mini transponders that are put on each horse and then it visually shows them on the display so everyone knows what number horse is in what position. I don’t know how I would’ve been able to keep track of them without this feature. This helps everyone in the stands stay involved during the whole race instead of just paying attention to the final stretch to see who wins. Sometimes the finishes were really close, so the displays were used to help give everyone in the stands an “unofficial” view as to who won.
Overall, it was an amazing experience. If you get the chance to take in a race at Del Mar, I’d highly suggest going!