Handle jumps at Delaware Park
Elate won the Delaware Handicap. Photo by Allison Janezic.
From a Delaware Park release
Despite declines in average starters per race and 28 fewer turf races because of the above-average rainfall in the region, Delaware Park’s 81st live racing season concluded with an increase in total handle on Saturday, October 20th.
Total handle for the 81-day meet was $112,041,057, an increase of 17% over the $95,768,895 from last year’s 81-day meet. Average starters per race decreased from 7.14 last year to 6.65, a decline of 6.8%, and total turf races fell from 150 to 122, a decline of 18.7%.
“We are certainly encouraged by the final handle figure despite the challenges we faced this year,” said Kevin DeLucia, Senior Vice President of Racing/Finance. “The historic rainfall that resulted in the significant decrease of turf racing also contributed to the drop in average starters per race.
“I think we did a better job of placing some of our cards and even individual races in spots attractive to horse players on the national stage,” said DeLucia. “Having opening day on the Wednesday after Memorial Day instead of our traditional opening on Saturday, is one example. Consequently, we had some very good days and individual races towards the beginning of the meet and that momentum helped carry us through all of those days in August, September and October when we had to transfer so many turf races to the main track. I think we also benefited from industry-wide handle figures being up despite slightly smaller field size.”
The brilliant filly Elate won the Grade I Delaware Handicap with Jose Ortiz aboard on July 14th. Owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider, the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro posted a 3¼-length victory in the filly and mare summer classic. The Kentucky-bred was conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
“Elate is a sensational filly, and she ranks right up there with some of the greatest fillies to win the Delaware Handicap,” said John Mooney, Executive Director of Racing. “She followed with a courageous effort by running second in her next start the Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga. We very were very much looking forward to seeing her complete her season, and we were very disappointed to hear she had a setback in her training that will keep her from running in the Breeders’ Cup.”
Carol Cedeno returned to the top of the jockey standings by notching 100 victories, 28 more than Angel Suarez in second. On July 11th, Cedeno made history by becoming the only rider to record seven wins on a single Delaware Park card. The 27-year-old native of Puerto Rico was the leading rider at Delaware Park from 2014 through 2016 before finishing second in 2017.
Jamie Ness recorded his sixth leading trainer championship by saddling 41 winners. Last year, the 41-year-old native of Heron, South Dakota, finished tied for the top spot, after being the leading trainer in 2016, 2015, 2013 and 2012. Jagger Inc. won the leading owner title for the third consecutive season by recording 23 wins.