American Sailor
Jaime Rodriguez. Photo courtesy of Delaware Park.

Correspondent Mike Valiante shares his weekly Delaware Park Handicappers’ Notebook, featuring horses to watch, bet-backs, and more.

Each week he’ll give you the skinny on how the races are unfolding, which horses overcame the bias (or profited from it), and who had troubled trips. Plus, he’ll provide trainer and jockey of the week picks, and much more.

Notable races and trips

MAY 26

  • Race 1: Any excitement about the 13 ¼-length victory of Bearakontie should be tempered by the fact that this was an incredibly weak field. Her four opponents’ running lines consisted almost entirely of Beyer figs well below par for this class level.
  • Race 3 (turf): First-timer Map the Moment broke badly and trailed the field at the first quarter by over eight lengths. Ran well inside thereafter and was coming on until getting shut off down the stretch. Forced to kick out, she then regained momentum to finish well for the show spot.
  • Race 4: The inside appeared significantly slower than the middle paths all day on the main track. Nowhere was this better illustrated then when Alexa G battled early on the rail but then dropped back so badly that track announcer Josh Brown stated she “had waved the white flag.” Jockey then swung her out, and she closed to win at 19-1.

MAY 29

  • Race 4: Despite getting off a beat slow, Foggy Flight got the lead on the rail and was able to win. Extra points for overcoming the bias that existed during the first two days, where stalk-and-close in the middle of the track was the most common dirt winning move.
  • Race 7: The two most troubled trips of the day were in this race. Vikram won despite being very wide on the first turn and having to swing wide coming out of the final turn.  Longshot Myquest was even wider throughout the race but finished a very courageous fourth. Even though the outside of the track was the place to be, these two ran significantly farther than their competitors who finished second and third. Note that Myquest had to be vanned off.
  • Thankful for the blue-collar horse
    Bemoan racing’s lack of high-end, sticking-around stars? No, thanks. Be thankful, instead, for the blue-collar horses that are the spine of the industry.

  • Race 8: Beautiful Grace was another rare wire-to-wire dirt winner through the first four racing days. Wisely, jock did manage to stay off the one-path down the stretch. That spot was utilized by the place horse, Cause I Said, who was one of the few horses that actually closed on the dead rail all week.

MAY 31

  • Race 3: Maid the Journey was extremely wide in the first turn then made up ground on the backstretch before taking the lead in the far turn. Horse drifted inward down the stretch to the dead rail but still managed to finish third.
  • Race 6: An allowance NW 2 that came up somewhat salty, it included three stakes runners.  The place horse, American Patrol, ran well and was beaten by the only 4-year-old in the race. American Patrol should appreciate longer distance.
  • Race 8: Throw out the running line for Baby I’m Perfect.  Was not scratched despite breaking through the gate and running loose the length of the stretch. After being reloaded, took the lead on the dead rail before giving it up in going into the far turn.


  • No winning favorites on a competitive card. the dirt track played a little fairer to early speed. Rail was still a little slower than outside paths. Historically, the Delaware Park track does not hold a bias for long stretches so we will see what the upcoming week will bring.

Jockey and Trainer of the Week

Jockey Jaime Rodriguez had eight wins on the week with five of them coming on Saturday May 29. No other rider has more than three.

Trainer Jamie Ness had six wins on the week with four of them coming on Saturday May 29. No other trainer has more than two wins.


Shippers that came from Parx won at an over 25% clip in the first four days while Tampa, Laurel and Pimlico shippers won at a rate of approximately 10%. Parx horses performed well here last year so this is something to consider in your handicapping.