Marylanders find success again on Delaware Owners Day

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Sept. 27, 2021

Scott Peck, a trainer for more than three decades, recalls winning a stakes soon after he received his trainer’s license. The horse, however, ran under the name of another conditioner. A win is a win, but in this case, it wasn’t officially credited to Peck.

On the Sept. 25 Owners Day program at Delaware Park, the 89-year-old Peck recorded his first official stakes winner thanks to a gritty victory by the promising No Sabe Nada in the 11th running of the $100,000 First State Dash for 2-year-olds at 5 1/2 furlongs. Ridden by Roberto Alvarado Jr., the Kentucky-bred Jersey Town gelding rated in fourth for a half-mile in a 10-horse field before making his bid entering the stretch. He rallied past favored Rebel Empire late to win by a half-length.

“As you can see, he’s a big horse,” Peck said. “But he’s kind of laid back. He’s a runner, though, and he did his job today. A lot of hard work goes into this.”

Peck was referring to training Thoroughbreds, but a lot work also goes into providing a good experience, and financial incentives, for owners who race at Delaware Park.

No Sabe Nada, who now has $98,500 in earnings after three starts, one of which produced a second-place finish in the Dover Stakes, is Delaware Certified, which makes the victory even more special for Peck. The trainer also is the longtime president and member of the Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which along with Delaware Park created the Delaware Certified Thoroughbred Program in 2002 to offer incentives for horses to domicile and race in a state with no established Thoroughbred breeding program.

The First State Dash was one of four $100,000 Certified stakes on the Sept. 25 card. The other two stakes, for horses that had started at the 2021 Delaware Park meet excluding stakes, each offered up to $50,000 in bonuses for Certified horses that finished first through fifth.

The Delaware Certified program, which provides 50% purse bonuses for all overnight races at Delaware Park, has steadily grown in recent years and had a record number of applications for 2021. A pair of Certified stakes for 2-year-olds were added this year along with two turf stakes for Certified 3-year-olds and up.

The program got another boost earlier this year when legislation that increased the state’s share of funding for the program, as well as the Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund, was signed by Gov. John Carney.

The Certified stakes program since its inception has been linked to Owners Day, which has set a standard for such events given the efforts of DTHA Executive Director Bessie Gruwell, DTHA staff and the organization’s marketing agency. The event is held under large tents in the popular Picnic Grove and in the clubhouse dining room. Each year features a theme, and this year it was, “We’re off to see the races” a la The Wizard of Oz.

As it turned out—and it’s not the first time—the Yellow Brick Road was Interstate 95 from Laurel Park to Delaware Park. Four of the six stakes were won by Maryland-breds based at Laurel, with one-two finishes in two of the Certified stakes.

Cash is King and LC Racing’s Murph, a Maryland-bred filly by Malibu Moon, captured the 5 1/2-furlong Small Wonder for Delaware Certified 2-year-old fillies. Murph was the first of two stakes winners for trainer Brittany Russell and the first of three for jockey Jevian Toledo.

The second-place finisher, Lou Ulman and Stephen Parker’s Whiteknuckleflyer, is trained by Dale Capuano and based at Laurel. The Uncle Lino filly now has two second in three starts and though maiden is now restricted-stakes-placed.

Lucky 7 Stable’s Street Lute, the Delaware Certified champion 2-year-old filly of 2020, ran her local record to three-for-three with a victory in the six-furlong Tax Free Shopping Distaff for Delaware Certified fillies and mares under regular rider Xavier Perez. Trained by John Robb at Laurel, Street Lute, a Maryland-bred by Street Magician won for the ninth time overall and pushed her career earnings to $545,720.

ZWP Stable and Non Stop Stable’s Malibu Beauty, trained by Gary Capuano, finished second in a game effort that set the table for a nice payday in the DTHA Governor’s Day Handicap for 3-year-olds and up that had started at the 2021 meet.

Trained by Gary Capuano and ridden by Jevian Toledo, Non Stop Stable’s Tappin Cat, a 5-year-old Maryland-bred gelding by Tritap, held off all challengers to win the $75,000 stakes at one mile and 70 yards for his third victory in a row. Tappin Cat is Delaware Certified, and was the only Certified horse in the race, so the owner and certifier collected the $50,000 bonus attached to the stakes as the race value increased to $125,000.

Russell’s second and Toledo’s third score came in the six-furlong New Castle Stakes for Certified 3-year-olds and up with Whereshetoldmetogo, who won the First State Dash in 2017 and crossed the wire first in the New Castle last year only to be disqualified and placed second. The 6-year-old Maryland-bred gelding by El Padrino is owned by Madaket Stables, Ten Strike Racing, Michael Kisber and BTR Racing.

“We know he likes Delaware, so this has been the target for a while,” Russell said. “He is a tough, good horse who runs hard every time, so it is nice to see him back in the winner’s circle.”

It was the 11th win in 30 starts for Whereshetoldmetogo, who ran his local record to five wins and two seconds in seven starts.

Jockey Angel Suarez, one of the leading riders at Delaware Park, also posted a riding triple which included a victory in the $75,000 George Rosenberger Memorial, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares who had raced during the 2021 meet. It was the third win for the the 4-year-old Bayern filly owned by Helen Groves. Revocable Trust and trained by Michael Matz.