The 78th live racing season at Delaware Park concluded with positive results on Saturday, October 17th. Handle numbers were slightly up over last season and the winner of the Delaware Handicap emerged as a leading contender in the Distaff division for the fifth consecutive year.
Total handle for the 81-day meet was $104,789,404 as compared to $102,834,201 from the 80-day meet last year, an increase of 1.9%. The average per race day handle of $1,293,696 was up from the 2014 average of $1,285,428.
The Delaware Handicap was run as a Grade I race for the third time since 1989. On July 18th, Harold Queen’s Sheer Drama posted a thrilling 1 ¼-length victory in the filly and mare summer classic. The 5-year-old daughter of Burning Roma, conditioned by David Fawkes, followed with a victory in the Grade I Personal Ensign at Saratoga. Her victory stamped her as one of the leading contenders in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, to be run on October 30th at Keeneland Racetrack in Lexington, Kentucky.
“Through the decades, the Delaware Handicap has always been a key race in the filly and mare divisional championship,” said Kevin DeLucia, the Senior Vice President of Racing and Finance. “The most recent renewals have solidified its position on the national calendar and fulfilled the vision of the track founders in making Delaware Park a filly and mare showcase track. I congratulate the connections of Sheer Drama on the 2015 Delaware Handicap victory and wish them the best of luck in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.”
The two-time Delaware Handicap winner, Royal Delta, was crowned champion of the division in 2013 and 2012. Havre de Grace finished second to her arch-rival Blind Luck in 2011, before being named Horse of the Year and filly and mare champion.
“Delaware racing has been faced with many challenges during the past decade, including increased casino competition and steady reductions in foal crops,” said John Mooney, the Executive Director of Racing. “Despite those challenges, we have had exciting racing year-after-year and this season was not an exception. In addition to the Delaware Handicap winner Sheer Drama, we have four other fillies connected to Delaware Park that could run in the Distaff. Calamity Kate and Peace and War, the one-two finishers in the Delaware Oaks, and I’m a Chatterbox and Lovely Maria have been stabled at Delaware Park all meet.”
George and Lori Hall’s Calamity Kate, who recently finished second in the Grade I Cotillion at Parx, is trained by Kelly Breen. Peace and War, who was third in the Cotillion, is stabled at Fair Hill Training Center with trainer H. Graham Motion. Fletcher and Carolyn Gray’s I’m a Chatterbox, the winner of the Cotillion, and Brereton Jone’s Lovely Maria, the winner of the Kentucky Oaks, are both trained by J. Larry Jones who has based his spring and summer operation at Delaware Park since 2006.
Jockey Carol Cedeno notched her second straight riding title by recording 64 winners. Jamie Ness won leading trainer honors by notching 40 winners. This is the third leading trainer championship for Ness, who also won the title 2013 and 2012. Midwest Thoroughbreds won the leading owner title by notching 20 wins. This is the fifth leading owner championship for Midwest Thoroughbreds, who also won the title from 2010 through 2013.