Delaware reports decline in total handle, increase in wagering per race

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Oct. 10, 2019

Delaware Park, which concluded its 81-day meet Oct. 5, reported a decline in total pari-mutuel handle but a slight increase in average handle per race.

Total handle for the meet was $104,200,290, down 7% compared with $112,041,056 for 81 programs in 2018. The number of races this year was 661 races, down 54, or 7.6%, from 715 last year, the track reported. Average field size of 6.56 this year was down from 6.65 in 2018, but average handle per race inched up to $157,640 from $156,701,

A few early-meet programs in May were canceled due to a lack of entries; field size seemed to peak during the final month of the meet. The 2019 meet was supposed to span 85 days per a three-year agreement with the Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.

“We had a tough season filling races for many reasons, including a strangles positive that negatively impacted our featured Delaware Oaks and Delaware Handicap race days.” Kevin DeLucia, Senior Vice President of Racing/Finance for Delaware Park, said in a release. “The reality of overlapping racetrack dates and lack of coordination of stakes races in the Mid-Atlantic region have always presented us with difficult obstacles. Despite these challenges, we were encouraged that the average handle per race increased slightly and we are looking forward to the 2020 season.”

Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider’s Elate, trained by Bill Mott, won her second consecutive Delaware Handicap with Jose Ortiz aboard. The $750,000, Grade II stakes for fillies and mares is the track’s marquee race.

“Once again, the Delaware Handicap was a pivotal race in the filly and mare division as both Elate and Blue Prize have emerged as top contenders in the division,” said John Mooney, Executive Director of Racing. “Elate, the Del Cap winner, followed with two solid seconds against the best in the division in Grade I races and Blue Prize, third in the Del Cap, has had two impressive victories, the latest being the Grade I Spinster. We are very much looking forward to seeing both of these outstanding mares running in the Breeders’ Cup.”

Carol Cedeno returned to the top of the jockey standings wins 77 victories. The 28-year-old native of Puerto Rico was the leading rider at Delaware Park from 2014 through 2016 and in 2018; she finished second in 2017.

Jamie Ness recorded his seventh leading trainer championship by saddling 44 winners. The 42-year-old native of Heron, S.D., was leading trainer in 2012 and 2013 and from 2015-18. Joseph Besecker won the leading owner title with 22 wins.

(Delaware Park photo by Tom LaMarra)