‘Certified’ program gets a push as Delaware Park meet begins

Posted: June 1, 2017

In an effort to further the reach of the Delaware Thoroughbred Certified Program, the Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association has unveiled a new online service in conjunction with Equibase.

The DCTP, which provides purse bonuses for eligible horses that compete at Delaware Park, was launched by the DHTA and racetrack management in 2003 to offer incentives to race in Delaware and to help maintain greenspace by preserving horse fams. More than $3 million in awards has been paid so far.

Horses that are boarded at a registered farm or training center in Delaware for at least 90 days prior to March 31 of their 2-year-old year are eligible, as are the handful of Thoroughbreds bred in the state. The program pays a 25% bonus to owners and certifiers—the farms—for all first-, second-, and third-place finishes at Delaware Park up to $10,000 per horse per race.

DTHA Executive Director Bessie Gruwell, during a May 31 press conference to kick off the 2017 Delaware Park meet, said Delaware-certified horses are racing around the country—but their owners may not know they are eligible for the bonuses funded by the purse account and track management. Both kick in $500,000 each year.

Certified horses are only identified in the live racing program on track, much like Maryland Million-eligible horses are at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course.

“For people who may be looking for horses to claim, the only way for them to know is if the horse runs at Delaware Park,” Gruwell said. “We want to help bring horses here to run, and also help the claiming trainers.

“There are nice (DCTP-eligible) horses running in Kentucky and even California, and also at Fair Hill Training Center. We want to tell people to keep an eye on them because they could be here to compete at Delaware Park.”

A portal (www.dctp.weebly.com) on the DTHA website allows people to search for individual horses and also provides a sign-up via Equibase Virtual Stable for a current list of DCTP horses.

As reported earlier, purses for two DCTP stakes on Owners’ Day (Sept. 30 this year) have been increased, and $50,000 in total will be up for grabs to DCTP-eligible runners in two open stakes that afternoon.

The Delaware Park meet begins June 1, its latest start in recent memory. John Mooney, Executive Director of Racing, said the later start reflects the current reality of racing.

“More and more stables that support Delaware racing are coming from further away,” Mooney said. “Meets are going longer in the spring, so it was difficult for us to fill races in April and May. There currently are more horses on the grounds at this time of year than we’ve had here on this date in the past.”

Overnights for the first two programs are encouraging given the competition for horses in the Mid-Atlantic region. The June 3 card attracted 91 entries for nine Thoroughbred races and one for Arabians, while the June 5 program has 81 entries for nine Thoroughbred races and one for Arabians.

Duncan Patterson, chairman of the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission, touched on the issue of integrity. He said he asked a trainer who shipped to Delaware with a sizable stable why he came given the fact purses may be higher at other facilities.

“He told me he’d rather run for less money because he is treated fairly here,” Patterson said. “That’s a tremendous tribute to Delaware Park. I don’t have to tell anyone here we have a lot of competition in the Mid-Atlantic region, but we all look forward to a successful season.”

(Delaware Park photo by Tom LaMarra)