Delaware celebrates owners, bonus program

Posted: Sept. 12, 2016

The Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association celebrated its 24th Owners’ Day Sept. 10 with a party in the picnic area at Delaware Park and recognition of a special bonus program that benefits participants and helps maintain green space in the state.

“For us this is huge,” DTHA executive director Bessie Gruwell said of Owners’ Day. “We used to have up to 1,000 guests, but now we do about 600-700. They think it’s the best event they go to as horsemen.

“We also want to showcase the Delaware Certified Program. Any horse that’s certified gets to run for a 50% bonus that’s added to the purse.”

The Delaware Certified Thoroughbred Program was created in 2002 to encourage maintenance and growth of green space in the state, which relies heavily on agriculture. The program, sponsored and administered by the DTHA, awards a bonus of 50%–25% to a certifier and 25% for an owner–for registered horses that finish first, second, or third in races at Delaware Park.

Bonuses are capped at $7,500 per horse per race. The one-time nomination fee is $50 for weanlings and $100 for yearlings; a certified horse must have been domiciled at a registered Delaware farm for at least 90 days prior to March 31 of its 2-year-old year.

There are more than 80 Delaware farms eligible to participate in the DCTP, which is funded by $500,000 from the DTHA purse fund and matched by $250,000 from the state and $250,000 from Delaware Park. Certified horses are eligible for four divisional stakes each worth $75,000 on Owners’ Day each year.

On Sept. 10 trainer Gina Rosenthal, who participates in the DTCP as a certifier, won two of the four stakes: the New Castle for 3-year-olds and up with Tim O’Donahue Racing Stable’s Debt Ceiling, and the Tax Free Shopping Distaff for fillies and mares with No Guts No Glory Stable’s Outwithbigdaddy.

Other winners were A Delaperriere Stables’ Sunshine Included, an Anthony Pecoraro trainee who captured the Small Wonder for 2-year-old males, and United Racing Stable’s Our Rombauer, who won the First State Dash for 2-year-old fillies for trainer Keith Nations.

The DCTP also was created to keep horses racing in Delaware, which doesn’t have an established Thoroughbred breeding program. From 1995-2015, there were 38 foals registered as bred in Delaware; such foals are eligible for DCTP bonuses as well.

The program has had some well-known equine participants, including Fox Hill Farm’s Havre de Grace, the 2011 Horse of the Year and champion older female who raced six times at Delaware Park in her career. Others include two owned by Midwest Thoroughbreds: Work All Week, champion sprinter of 2014, and grade I turf winner The Pizza Man.

Owners’ Day also serves to memorialize a few individuals who were synonymous with Delaware Park: longtime trainer Robert Camac and George Rosenberg, the first president of the DTHA.

(Delaware Park photo by Tom LaMarra)