Dream Marie
Dream Marie won the Obeah Stakes. Photo by The Racing Biz.

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


  • Race 2: A huge downpour commenced before the start and continued throughout the race.  To say the race played strangely is an understatement. The winner, Same Moon, was the longest shot in the race who closed from over 25 lengths to win at over 49-1. Meanwhile, Helen Marie was the under even money favorite but stumbled badly at the start and trailed by 24 lengths at the first quarter before getting some momentum. A complete throw-out race, in particular when you handicap these two horses, next time out.
  • Race 7: The short comment line will note that My Lucky Heart was fractious loading, but be aware that she also threw her jockey before loading and ran off in the wrong direction for nearly 2 furlongs before being collared by the outrider.  


  • Race 3: After stumbling badly leaving the gate, Angel’s Entry was wide on the first turn while having no one inside him.  Despite a +20 length deficit, the jockey did not give up and the horse closed around the far turn and charged down the stretch to briefly grab second behind a runaway winner before being headed at the wire for third.


Race 8: Sunday Swaggers’ win should be looked at with a very skeptical eye.  The field was incredibly weak even for a maiden $5,000 claimer.  The entire field only had two running lines that met the Beyer Par figure and unless the runners-up compete in an equally weak race, they are all bet-against types in their next out.

Jockey and Trainer of the Week

Jockeys Jaime Rodriguez and Carol Cedeno each had 4 wins over the last three racing days but a special tip of the hat goes to Joe Bravo who came in for one race on July 9, the Obeah Stakes, and went away with the victory.

Trainer Jamie Ness had 3 more wins over the last three racing days. No other trainer has more than 3 wins for the entire meet.

Handicappers’ Toolbox

The dirt track continued to be more kind to come from behind horses particularly those who made a move around the far turn.

As a handicapper, one obvious way to use track biases is to — in a sense — hold it against horses who benefit from the bias. So, for example, a horse who goes right to the lead and wins in a visually impressive manner might get a more skeptical eye next time if the track is playing fair.

It’s arguably even more powerful to look for horses who ran credible races while handicapped by the bias. On that same inside speed-favoring day, for example, the horse that made a strong middle move from the back to move into contention before flattening out may be one to watch next time.

On a separate matter, I have always appreciated the Arabian races at Delaware. Although the prices were generally short, the consistency of the horses allowed me to play straight exactas with a lot of confidence.  There have been fewer of these races here the last couple years, including just one to date in 2021. Here’s hoping to see more of them during the rest of the meet at a track that has been the centerpiece of the action for the breed in this country for decades.