Miss Marissa
Miss Marissa proved best in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap. Photo by Allison Janezic.

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

AUGUST 14- 23

Because of the two cards that were cancelled by the heat two weeks ago the trip/notes summary includes observations from the previous six racing programs.


  • Race 1: Based on his May 29th effort, we mentioned Cause I Said in a previous notebook for being one of the few runners who made up ground on the rail during the first week of the meet. Ridden beautifully by Angel Suarez this horse closed again to win, this time at odds of 4.40-1.


  • Race 5: Immediately after the conclusion of this race it was first announced that the track record for 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf was broken by the winner Ghost Hunter, an 11 year-old gelding that went off as the favorite and won by six. Then it was announced that there may have been a problem with the timers. Two days later Equibase confirmed it would be posting it on charts as beating the previous record by over one second. Call me skeptical, but if an 11 year-old in a $12,500 claimer smashes a record, you have to wonder whether an issue with the run-up or the timers is involved.


  • Race 2: Leme At Em was favored in a short field but gets extra points for winning despite a bad start that relegated him to last and then going five wide to gain ground and ultimately earn the victory.


  • Race 2: She’s Peachy Keen not only won the race but the 2-year-old filly came back with so much energy that jockey Carol Cedeno had trouble getting her to enter the winners circle. Did not appear tired at all after her victory.


  • Race 2: Tate was claimed from Michael Stidham and Godolphin by Gary Contessa and Bell Gable Stable for $25,000, the lowest level at which Tate had competed. Tate was the beaten favorite for the third time in his career. Unless the horse is dropped off the claim, I would be leery of supporting him next time out.

Jockey and Trainer of the Week

Jockey Carol Cedeno won on 5 of her 15 mounts this past week. Although she still trails Jaime Rodrigues by 15 wins in the jockey standings she is having a great meet. Her consistency is to be commended, and even if she finishes second in the standings this year, her work ethic and hunger are still evident.

Trainer Jamie Ness was 3-for-12 for the week. He leads the trainer race by 22 wins through August 24 and could win the training title even if he entered no horses for the rest of the meet.

Handicappers’ Toolbox

Delaware Park’s announced it will extend the 2021 meet until the end of October. Given that Delaware typically shuts down the turf course before the end of the meet and a number of trainers have most likely made plans to leave the barns by the original closing date, the fields may be sparse on the extended dates. Track management should think outside the box and, if possible, keep the turf course open through the last day of the meet.