From a Delaware Park release

The 76th live racing season at Delaware Park concluded with neutral results on Wednesday, October 9.  The defending filly and mare champion, Besilu Stable’s Royal Delta, won her second consecutive Delaware Handicap earlier in the year, and the 2013 Delaware Park season concluded with a decrease in total live handle, but an increase in average all sources handle (live on-track and live export).

The Delaware Handicap was run as a Grade I race for the first time since 1989.  On July 20, Royal Delta posted a record setting victory by winning the filly and mare summer classic by 10 ¾-lengths.  The 5-year-old daughter of Empire Maker conditioned by William Mott followed with a victory in the Grade I Personal Ensign at Saratoga and has emerged a leading contender to win her third Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Friday.  For the third straight year, the Delaware Handicap could produce the champion of the filly and mare division.  In 2011, Havre de Grace finished second to her arch-rival Blind Luck before being named Horse of the Year and the champion of the filly and mare division.

“The most recent renewals have solidified the position of the Delaware Handicap as the filly and mare summer classic on the national calendar,” said John Mooney the Executive Director of Racing.  “Through the decades, the Delaware Handicap has proven to be a pivotal stepping stone on the road to the filly and mare championship and the most recent renewals of the race have certainly met, if not surpassed, the standards of that tradition.  I congratulate the connections of Royal Delta on the 2013 Delaware Handicap victory and wish them the best of luck in the Breeders’ Cup this year.”

Two other Delaware Park connected horses will be going shooting for Breeders’ Cup glory.  Brujo de Olleros, the winner of the Carl Hanford Memorial on August 19, will be in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on Friday, and Mexikoma, an impressive maiden winner on September 12, will be in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Saturday.  Both are owned by Team Valor International and both are trained by Richard Mettee.

Jockey Alex Cintron enjoyed a milestone meet.  Cintron won his first ever riding title by recording 98 wins.  Apprentice Victor Carrasco finished a close second by notching 96 victories.  Jamie Ness captured the race for leading training for the second consecutive year with 50 wins.  Midwest Thoroughbreds won the leading owner title for the fourth consecutive season by notching 50 wins.

While the total live racing all sources handle decreased by 1.4%, the average daily live racing all sources handle increased 13.2%.  The 2013 81-day live racing season ended with a total handle of $115,151,678, while the 93-day 2012 season ended with a total handle of $116,771,916.  This year, the average live racing all sources handle was $1,421,626, while the average last year was $1,255,612.  The average starters per race was 6.97 in 2013 and 6.89 in 2012, reflecting an increase of only 1.2%.

“The last couple of years have been challenging because of the increased competition, the steady decrease in the foal crops, and the sluggish economy,” said John Mooney.  “By reducing the number of days of the meet, we positioned our product to be competitive with those challenges, and we are upbeat about the results. Moving forward into the 2014 season, we will continue to explore every option to strengthen our racing product in the current environment.”