By Sean Greene 12:51am, May 15, 2014
VIDEO: Reaction to DelPark's new equine testing program (PHOTO: Delaware Park's paddock/Sean Greene)Delaware Park opens up its 77th year of live racing Saturday with an 8-race card as part of a Preakness Day Celebration.
This is the second year DelPark is going with an 81-day meet, and Duncan Patterson, the Chairman of the Delaware Racing Commission says fewer available horses are partially to blame for the second-straight shortened schedule.
"The industry itself needs to turn it around. The foal crop is on the uprise, thank God, because of the improvement in the economy. The value of horses is also going up, it's a supply and demand situation.
Just 60 horses are scheduled for the 8 races on Saturday's card, but those who run will be under the scrutiny of a new testing system run by LGC Sports Science out of Lexington, Ky.
Mike Gorham, President of the Delaware Thoroughbred Horseman Association, which represents the trainers, hopes the new policy will help break up some opinions of the betting public.
"The perception is if a horse wins by 20 lengths, he was drugged. Obviously, we have real strict testing, and now it's just going to get a little stricter."
The highlight of the meet will be the Grade I Delaware Handicap on July 12, a race that has featured the eventual Eclipse Award Older Female Division champion in each of the past 3 years. Havre De Grace finished second in the race before being being named Horse of the Year in 2011, while Royal Delta won the race and the Female title the last 2 years.
The $300,000 Grade II Delaware Oaks will run the weekend before the DelCap for 3-year-old fillies, on a card which also features the Grade III Robert G. Dick Memorial for turf horses running 1 3/8 miles.
June 14th will bring the Grade III Obeah Stakes, the top local prep for the DelCap, and the Kent Stakes for 3-year-olds on the turf will be run on September 20th to wrap up the graded stakes schedule.
Live racing runs until October 22nd, with races on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from June through Labor Day. Mondays will be dropped after that through the end of the meet. The May racing days will be on the 17th, 21st, 24th, 26th, 28th, and 31st.
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