Wilmington, Delaware 19804
Delaware Park (also known as DelPark) is an American horse racing track, casino, and golf course in Stanton, Delaware. It is located just outside the city of Wilmington, and about thirty miles from Philadelphia.
William duPont, Jr. a designer of twenty-three racing courses, designed and built Delaware Park Racetrack in partnership with Donald P. Ross. The facility opened on June 26, 1937 and today is the only thoroughbred horse racing track in the state of Delaware. Races are run from April to November.
Race purses have increased in recent years owing to increasing casino revenues. With the United States national average horse racing purse of $20,762 in 2005, the average 2005 purse for DelPark of $30,650 has helped to attract more talented contenders and more first-time competitors to the venue for the 2005 and 2006 racing seasons. The 2005 average purse for DelPark placed Delaware fifth among states of the United States; the first rank for average purse was held by New York at $41,229 per race.
In recent years, near-Triple Crown winner Afleet Alex and Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, both won their career debuts at Delaware (Barbaro did it on the grass at 7-1), and the sprint champion mare Xtra Heat was based there. The track is now home to many horses who routinely ship to and win at the major circuits in New York, Florida and Kentucky.
Delaware Park is also the only mid-Atlantic track to regularly card Arabian races. The area has a strong Arabian and equestrian population. Michael Matz, Barbaro's trainer, won the silver medal in the equestrian events at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Matz is one of several mid-Atlantic trainers to perform on the national stage, along with Barclay Tagg, perennial leading trainer Tim Ritchey and J. Larry Jones, trainer of 2007 Kentucky Derby runnerup Hard Spun, who is also based at Delaware Park. Jones also trained the ill-fated Eight Belles, who also broke her maiden at Delaware before going on to finish second in the 2008 Kentucky Derby prior to her untimely death post-race.
Delaware Park entries are drawn well in advance which often results in short fields after several late scratches. It is not uncommon to see four- or even three-horse fields at Delaware in bad weather. Small fields are an issue because Philadelphia Park Racetrack, Laurel Park Racecourse, Pimlico Race Course, Charles Town, Mountaineer, and Colonial Downs all run simultaneously. Delaware Park is not part of a racing circuit, but is instead a standalone track. During the off-season, horses who do not lay over for the spring meet often disperse to the above mid-Atlantic tracks, plus New York, while others go to Florida. Conversely, many Florida-based horses "summer" at Delaware.
The casino houses numerous slot machines, some linked to the multi-state jackpot game Cashola. Betting on NFL games was legalized in Delaware and made available at Delaware Park in 2009.