What to watch for during Delaware Park 2023 meet
The 86th racing season commences May 24 at Delaware Park. While the track is steeped in history, it’s not standing still. There are a significant number of new developments for the Stanton, DE oval. Here’s what to watch for:
A new track surface:
A little over a month ago, work was completed on resurfacing the track. A number of exercise riders have commented favorably on the track to date. It will be interesting to see how it plays once racing kicks off.
As the year begins the backstretch is housing about 1,000 horses, which is a bump up from the early season totals from the last few years.
According to Delaware Park, a number of trainers who were not present last year, are now utilizing stable space. Those include Keri Brion, Blake Kelly, Monica McGoey, Diane Morici, Kerri Raven, Rodolfo Sanchez-Salomon, Robert G. Smith, Elliot Sullivan and James Toner.
The presence of so many new barns should make for interesting racing, particularly early in the meet as bettors learn their tendencies and see what they have stabled locally.
As usual the first Saturday in July will feature multiple stakes, including the $300,000, Grade 3 Delaware Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. The signature race of the meet, the $500,000, Grade 2 Delaware Handicap for older fillies and mares will take place on the following Saturday,
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Both big races are supported by two additional stakes. The Oaks is joined by the six-furlong Alapocas Run and the Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial going 11 furlongs on the turf. The DelCap is supported by the $150,000 Battery Park and the six-furlong Dashing Beauty.
A major change for this year is that both a pair of $150,000 turf routes, the Kent Stakes for 3-year-olds and the Christiana Stakes for sophomore fillies, will be run on a different Saturday than the other big stakes. That date will be July 15, thereby creating three consecutive weekends of major stakes action at Delaware Park.
In addition to the stakes races, the track will also host races that are restricted in various ways, including four Del-certified contests.
New paddock host:
Shortly following the 2022 season, J. J. Graci who had held the position of paddock host since the passing of Rich Glazier, passed away. His role will be filled by racing veteran Stan Salter, who many might remember held a similar role in Maryland for several years.
Stan told me, “I’m looking forward to talking about racehorses from one of the most beautiful paddocks in the country. I’ve been a big fan of Delaware Park since I was a kid.”
A new boss:
Delaware Park suffered two significant deaths in the off season. In addition to Graci’s passing, Mr. Ron Baumann, who served as President and General Manager for both the casino and racing facility, passed away in April. Mr. Baumann had held that position since the track was sold to a new ownership group late in 2021.
His replacement will be Terry Glebocki, who comes to the position with significant casino experience. She previously was was CEO of the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City.
There are going to be two handicapping contests at Delaware Park this year: one on July 15 and one on Sept 9. These come with National Horseplayers Championship seats. The entry fee is $200 with another $300 for bankroll. For both contests the top two finishers will win an NHC prize package which includes the seat, Las Vegas hotel stay and airfare voucher.
This and that:
Jamie Ness will be looking to win his eleventh overall training title at Delaware Park. If he is successful, it will tie the mark set by Grover “Buddy” Delp… Owner’s Day will be held on September 9 this year, which is earlier on the calendar… Jockey Angel Suarez will not be riding at Delaware Park this year. He and his new wife Aubrie Green have moved their tack to Louisiana. Suarez finished fourth in the jockey standings by wins in 2022, and Green finished 12th. Together they accounted for just under 450 mounts so there will be some opportunities for other jocks to pick up mounts… Jennifer Kelly who is the author of two books, most recently “The Foxes of Belair: Gallant Fox, Omaha and the quest for the Triple Crown,” will appear at Delaware Park June 9 as part of her book tour. Chris Sobocinski who is the Racing Information Coordinator at Delaware Park, said, “I am pretty excited about the Jennifer Kelly book signing on June 9. I think it gives all of us an opportunity to reflect on the incredibly rich heritage of racing in this area. Chesapeake City had Kelso & Northern Dancer, Berlin, MD had Man o’ War and Bowie, MD had Belair, and those are just a few of numerous contributions this area has given the sport.”
The 85 days of live racing at Delaware Park kicks off May 24 and concludes on October 28.
Welcome back Stan