Nations looking to build on success in second year at Delaware Park
(Posted from DelawarePark.com) Wilmington, Del., May 10, 2017 — After a successful meet in his first full season at Delaware Park in 2016, trainer Keith Nations is excited for the return of live racing at the Stanton-oval on June 3rd. “We are coming back again with same number of horses – probably in the neighborhood of 40,” said trainer Keith Nations. “We have kind of a blue-collar stable. We are not loaded with the very high-end kind of horses, but we have a lot of really good hard-hitting, honest horses that can get the job done.” In 2016, he finished third in the trainer standings at Delaware Park with a record of 25 wins from 99 starters with earnings of $525,625. “Last year, we had a really good meet and we are hoping to build success from that,” Nations said. “We are hoping to have a little better horses than we had last year and we are pretty excited about trying to do more of the same, especially with our 2-year-olds.” After enjoying success in northern California, the 55-year-old native of Sylva, North Carolina decided to relocate his operation to the mid-Atlantic in 2013. He and his wife Cheryl, a former vice president of marketing at the University of Washington, have settled into spending summers in Delaware and winters on the gulf coast of south Florida. “We plan on doing the Delaware/Tampa circuit for many years to come,” Nations said, who saddled his first winner at Emerald Downs in Washington in 1991. “We love the Delaware area. We are looking to buy a home in the area and that is where we want to spend our summers. We love the facility and we love the people. We really made some good friends at Delaware. You like being at your barn and like going to the races. A lot of it is the people. There are just really good people at Delaware they are very genuine. As much as I love it here [Tampa], I am looking forward to getting back there. We are still going to have a barn at Parx and we might do a little Laurel just to keep some flexibility, but Delaware is pretty much our summer base.” While Nations’ barn may be getting younger, he will still have plenty of names on the track that horse players will remember. One of those veterans is Nations’ Racing Stable’s Martini Glass. Last year, Martini Glass claimed the Kentucky-bred for $16,000 in her career debut at Tampa Bay Downs. Since then, she has notched six wins and a third from 12 starts. At Delaware Park, the 4-year-old daughter of Kitalpha posted a victory in a starter allowance last season. “We are looking forward to running Martini Glass at Delaware Park,” he said. “After the Delaware Park meet was over last fall, we gave her a break and since we brought her back she has been phenomenal. She trains great, she breezes great and she has been running really well, so we are pretty excited about her this year. We will probably point her toward the Obeah stakes on June 10th and will just go from there and see how she does. She still has some of her allowance conditions and she is eligible for the starter allowances, so she is one I think we will have a lot of fun with this summer.” Another horse of Nations to keep an eye is HnR Nothhaft Horse Racing’s Mister Nofty. The 4-year-old son of Scat Daddy has not had a race in yet in 2017. Last year, he posted a record of four wins, a second and a third from eight starts including a victory in the Grover Delp Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park. “We are going to have Mister Nofty up and rolling in time for the Delaware Park meet,” Nations said. “He is a Pennsylvania-bred, so we will probably race him in some restricted races at Parx and Penn, but we are also going to run him at Delaware. He likes the course at Delaware and won a stake last year.” Others making preparations for the 2017 season at Delaware Park include J. Larry Jones, Tim Ritchey, Sam Cronk, Randy Nunley, Joseph Arboritanza, Michael Gorham, Anthony Pecoraro, Louis Albertrani, Jonathan Sheppard, Thomas Proctor, Mark Reid, Arnaud Delacour, Scott Lake and Ronald Alfano.
H2B VISA PROVISIONS REMAIN INTACT AS CONGRESS PASSES BUDGET By: Tom LaMarra
Posted: May 5, 2017 (Posted from THAracing.com) Legislation that will fund the federal government for fiscal 2017 passed Congress May 4 and includes the previously reported expansion of the cap on H2B visas for returning workers. The $1 trillion spending measure was approved by the United States Senate a day before a government-shutdown deadline. It will fund the government through September of this year. The Senate passed the bill on a 79-14 vote a day after the House of Representatives voted 309-118 to pass it. The annual cap on H2B visas, which are key to finding backstretch workers in the Thoroughbred industry, was 66,000, and it was reached only 10 days into 2017. The budget bill allows the number to grow to 129,547 at the discretion of John Kelly, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association said relief from the cap would hinge on whether the department determines there is “economic necessity.” There is no mandate that all 129,547 visas be granted. Racing industry lobbyists have made known the importance of the program to the workforce, and they plan to continue work on a long-term resolution to the visa program and immigration reform as part of the H2B Workforce Coalition. The NTRA said the higher number included in the spending bill “represents the number of new and returning workers admitted to the U.S. in fiscal year 2007, which is the fiscal year when the highest number of H2B non-immigrants participated in the H-2B returning worker program.”
Trainer J. Larry Jones Looking Forward for Delaware Park Meet
(Posted from Delawarepark.com) Wilmington, Del., May 3, 2017 — For the last 12 years, trainer J. Larry Jones has made Delaware Park his spring and summer home with tremendous career success. With Opening Day for the 80th season of live racing slated for June 3rd, Jones is looking forward to another promising and successful meet. “Delaware Park fits us. There is no reason for us to be any other place,” said Jones, who will have approximately 55 horses stabled at Delaware Park. “This is our spring and summer home.” In 2005, the 60-year-old native of Hopkinsville, Kentucky won the Delaware Handicap with Island Sand. The following year, he moved his entire operation to Delaware Park and since then, he has developed filly and mare superstars like Believe You Can, Eight Belles, Lovely Maria, Proud Spell and Havre de Grace at the historic Stanton oval. Last year, he won the Delaware Handicap for a second-time with the recently retired I’m a Chatterbox. “We come back to Delaware Park every year because we have had a lot of success,” Jones said. “It is pretty simple – it is a great spot to run and train. We can get to a lot of tracks from here, the surface is exceptional every year, the racing is great every season and we love the Delaware Handicap. Whatever has been good to you, you just keep doing it again and we do not have a reason to be anywhere else.” Jones went on to elaborate about one of his expectations for this season. “We do have our sights set on the Delaware Oaks. Of course we got Jenda’s Agenda, but we also got another filly who is a half-sister to the Grade I winner Hard Aces named Astrollinthepark,” Jones said. “She has won three in a row and was an impressive winner of a stake in her last race. Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farm also has a filly named Americana, who although still a maiden, is stakes-placed in California. We think she has plenty of promise.” Others making preparations for the 2017 season at Delaware Park include Tim Ritchey, Sam Cronk, Randy Nunley, Joseph Arboritanza Michael Gorham, Anthony Pecoraro, Louis Albertrani, Jonathan Sheppard, Thomas Proctor, Mark Reid, Arnaud Delacour, Scott Lake, Ronald Alfano and Keith Nations.
Bennett may be a force at Delaware Park Brad Myers, The News Journal
Gerald Bennett has saddled 3,579 winners at thoroughbred tracks all over North America, in a training career that stretches more than 40 years. And he has done it with a personal touch. “If you love these horses and they’re happy in the atmosphere that they’re in, in my stable they all know me personally,” Bennett said Tuesday. “They get a mint, they get carrots, they all come to me. They all know me.” The veteran trainer has 42 horses at Delaware Park, with more on the way. He figures to be a major force when the 79th season of live racing begins Saturday at the Stanton oval. The 72-year-old native of Nova Scotia has spent only one summer at Delaware Park before, winning 10 races in 1999. But Bennett was the leading trainer at the recently completed Tampa Bay Downs meet, and he believes his horses will fit well here. “It looked like in the condition book they had lots of the kinds of races for the horses we have,” Bennett said. “We have a lot of 3-year-olds right now. … They have a lot of races for us.” Bennett raced several summer meets at Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pa., and spent last summer at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. He shipped about 20 horses to Delaware two weeks ago, sent 20 more earlier this week and will bring in some 2-year-olds throughout the summer as they mature enough to start their racing careers. “We shipped up the biggest majority of them late, kind of stayed to help Tampa finish out the end of their meet,” Bennett said. “They’ll get ready to run pretty quick. As long as we have the spots to run in, I always try to run my horses every three weeks when I can.” He hopes to get off to a good start Saturday, saddling 3-1 morning line second choice Thunder Duke in the first race of the season at 1:15 p.m. He will also start 3-2 early favorite Valueable Charmer in the sixth race, a $36,000 allowance. The 3-year-old filly finished second in two stakes races at Tampa over the winter, and if she continues to progress Bennett said Valueable Charmer could be pointed toward the Grade III $300,000 Delaware Oaks on July 9. That is the track’s second-biggest race of the season, falling a week before the Grade I $750,000 Delaware Handicap on July 16. Horse trainer Gerald Bennett pets one the horses he is training at Delaware Park. The veteran trainer has more than 3,500 career victories. Bennett is one of several new trainers coming to try their luck at the 81-day meet, which runs through Oct. 15. George Leonard III has competed all over the Midwest and Florida, but will stable in the Mid-Atlantic for the first time with about 20 horses at Delaware Park. Keith Nations moved his operation from Northern California to Parx Racing near Philadelphia in 2013. This year, he plans to keep 30-40 horses at Delaware Park and 10-15 at Parx. Jamie Ness, Delaware Park’s leading trainer last season, returns along with familiar faces Larry Jones, Graham Motion, Tim Ritchey, Randy Allen, Randy Nunley, Michael Gorham, Johnathan Sheppard, Tim Ice and Scott Lake. Bennett should be a welcome addition. He ranks 19th all-time and 11th among active trainers in career wins. His 17,399 starters have earned more than $34 million over the years, and he tasted glory at the top level in 1990 when he trained Beau Genius to victory in the Grade I Philip Iselin Handicap at Monmouth. Beau Genius won 19 of 42 starts and earned more than $1 million. He took Bennett to the pinnacle of the sport with a start in the 1990 Breeders’ Cup Classic, where he finished 10th behind famed winner Unbridled. “I love winning races, and looking for that horse that could get you to the [Kentucky] Derby or get you to where we were before,” Bennett said. “When we had Beau, we shipped all over the country. I wish a lot of trainers could get those kinds of horses.” Bennett may find another star in the crop of 2-year-olds coming here this summer. No matter how fast they are – or aren’t – he knows every horse in his barn. “There’s a lot of love for these horses,” Bennett said. “To me, they’re like your kids. When they run and give their heart and do the best they can do, when they come back to the barn you show them that compassion. They pick up on it. They know.”
ROAP CONFERENCE IDENTIFIES IMPORTANCE OF SAFETY STEWARDS By: Tom LaMarra
(Posted from tharacing.com) Posted: April 5, 2017
Delaware Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse’s comments were brief, but they summed up the purpose of the two-day Racing Officials Accreditation Program conference held on the grounds of Delaware Park April 3-4.
“If we want to have quality racing in our states, we need to make sure it’s fair, not just for the competitors but for those betting on the races as well,” said Scuse, who returned to Delaware after eight years as Deputy Secretary for the United States Department of Agriculture. “It’s important that we continue to learn, get educated, and make racing the very best it can possibly be.”
The spring ROAP conference serves as a platform to identify points of emphasis for stewards, judges and other racing officials each year. There also are regular discussions regarding communication within the racing industry and with the general public.
One of this year’s topics was a review of racetrack safety rules, procedures and standards involving management, officials and horsemen, and a call for tracks to establish track safety committees. Some jurisdictions or individual tracks have hired track safety stewards, a relatively new position that could eventually become part of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance code of standards.
An April 4 panel discussion among safety stewards provided insight into a job that, among other things, serves as a bridge between horsemen and racetrack management or regulatory agencies—and perhaps most importantly has the potential to foster integrity and improve equine health and welfare.
“They can be of great value if used properly,” said Hugh Gallagher, the New York Racing Association safety steward who chairs ROAP. “We’re going to make this position as meaningful for racing as we can.”
Gallagher said a typical day could include morning training, mobile and walking barn patrols, checking on horses in stalls, and safety reviews. He noted that during an inspection one day in March officials confiscated 17 expired therapeutic medications from trainers.
“We’ve also gotten familiar with the veterinarians,” Gallagher said. “It’s not an adversarial relationship. We’re there to help them out.”
Cynthia Smith, a state steward and safety steward in New Mexico who began as a hot walker and has a long list of other racing-related jobs on her resume, said she works closely with investigators as part of her duties. She also said developing a relationship with trainers is very important.
“We need to remember how hard these people work on the backside seven days a week,” Smith said. “It’s a great thing to bring to the table—that personal experience of having worked on the backside. Educating and working with horsemen is an important thing, because you’re strengthening your horsemen colony from the inside out.”
Smith said she attends horsemen’s meetings and also is a liaison with stewards and vets.
“It’s a very positive opportunity,” she said. “You’re also helping to protect the racing association or racing commission against legal issues, and that helps knowing where people are coming from, too.”
Reese Howard, the safety steward at Delaware Park, previously was involved in a similar position with the National Steeplechase Association. Howard said it has been a learning experience for all parties, but already there have been positive developments.
“When I first got here people had no idea why I was here (on the backstretch),” he said. “I was probably the most hated person at the racetrack—worse than an investigator. But I had meetings with the horsemen to explain the purpose (of a safety steward), and they learned they could come to me. We’ve made some nice changes here at Delaware Park.”
Howard said he had cited some horsemen for lack of equine care, and they in turn improved their operations.
Dr. Jennifer Durenberger, a veterinarian and former Director of Racing for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission who now serves as a steward, said the position of safety steward evolves as the industry evolves. One benefit is a return to one-on-one contact that has been sorely missing on the backstretch.
“We’ve had a siloing of expertise that has led to isolation and less interaction than in years past,” Durenberger said. “People need to be heard. If (a representative) of a commission or track is not around in the morning, we’ve done a really good service by having someone on the backstretch to acknowledge (horsemen and their employees).”
(THA photo of John Wayne, Hugh Gallagher, Jennifer Durenberger, Reese Howard and Cynthia Smith, left to right, at ROAP conference)
Rain doesn't dampen mood on first day at Delaware Park
Kevin Tresolini, The News Journal STANTON – On yet another gray May day, Delaware Park, framed in its usual green, managed to serve as somewhat of an oasis for sports fans Saturday afternoon. The opening of the thoroughbred track’s live racing season, its 79th, stirred fanfare and brought a crowd, as did the running of the Preakness about 70 miles south at Pimlico. Bettors plunked money down on the home track’s 10-race card as well as the second leg of the Triple Crown and races elsewhere that they viewed on simulcast. They only had to peek down at the local oval, however, to witness some startling success for an apprentice jockey who’ll be making Delaware Park her summer station. Ashley Castrenze, 19, had two mounts and won them both, riding Theresa’s Honor to victory in the third race and Casual Cocktail to an 11½-length romp in the eighth. Florida native Castrenze, who is now living in Bear, has won six of the seven races in which she’s ridden, including the first four, and finished third in the other. The other wins were at Tampa Downs and Penn National. “I’m surprised I’m doing so well but Mr. Proctor just keeps putting me on winners,” Castrenze said of trainer Thomas F. Proctor, who is based in Fair Hill, Maryland. “He’s given me a lot of confidence that I need to do well.” Track conditions had been downgraded to sloppy from steady rain by the time Castrenze straddled Casual Cocktail. But those making wagers had noticed her success and made Casual Cocktail a 3-2 favorite in the 5 1/2-furlong ride. She swept ahead of the competition on the first turn and Casual Cocktail galloped in for a dominant win. “I’ve been riding since I was little, pretty much just show horses,” said Castrenze. “Riding races is a lot different and it took me a long time to get here.” Castrenze’s mother Jackie, was also a jockey. She spotted an early determination in daughter. “When [the horses] would buck her off,” Jackie said, “she’d kick ‘em and get back up. She was really tough when she was little.” Castrenze worked at Delaware Park last summer as an exercise rider but her competitive career is off to a great start. “So far I like it,” she said. “I’ve rode two and won two. I came here last year and I just loved it. The paddock is beautiful. The area is nice. The money here is good. You can’t knock it.” There was $942,000 bet on the Delaware Park card. When it concluded, the Preakness captured everyone’s attention. “I’m going with the three horse,” Doug Whelan of New Castle said of undefeated Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, the favorite. “I like the three, the five [Exaggerator], the seven [Collected] and the nine [Abiding Star]. The thing that worries me about Nyquist is he never ran in the mud. The gray horse, seven, he likes to run in the mud.” John Miller of Wilmington also had some money on Collected, but expected an Exaggerator-Nyquist duel. “I think Exaggerator is going to come on and beat the favorite,” Miller said. His betting companion, Aubrey Edwards, was equally prescient and said “I don’t believe Nyquist is going to win. It’s too sloppy. I think Exaggerator might get him at the end.” Sure enough, fast-starting Nyquist was overtaken by the victorious hard-charging Exaggerator. Cherry Wine nosed out Nyquist for third,. “They went fast. Blistering. Well, no Triple Crown,” Whelan lamented. “You never know when you’re going to see the next one. Might not be here.” Contact Kevin Tresolini at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @kevintresolini.
TISDALE A BEAUTIFUL HORSE WITH A BRIGHT FUTURE
by Doug McCoy A promising three-year-old with some strong local connections took another step forward on March 26 when Tisdale posted an authoritative 2 1/2-length victory over a field of allowance optional claiming routers at Oaklawn Park. Tisdale was bred in Pennsylvania by Delaware horsewoman Barbara Brown and has plenty of Maryland in his background, too. He is a half-brother to Delaware Oaks winner Dancing Afleet and multiple stake winner Tujoes. Tisdale is by Friesan Fire out of the productive Citidancer mare Mrs. Vanderbilt. In that last start, the Friesan Fire colt tracked the leader into the stretch of the 1 1/16 test, drew off to mid-stretch, and then held a safe margin to the finish under Ricardo Santana Jr. It was the second straight win for Tisdale, who is undefeated around two turns. Tisdale made his first start at Parx Racing last September and finished sixth in that 5 1/2 furlong sprint while racing extremely wide. Given four months after that race, the brown colt returned to action in a six furlong sprint on January 17. After racing next to last early Tisdale closed with a rush through the late stages to miss by a head at odds of 17-1. Brought back on February 6th going a mile and a sixteenth Tisdale led throughout that race and emerged from a long drive with a neck victory over That Makes Sense and Sturdy Shockwave. That Makes Sense came back to win his next race while Sturdy Shockwave was second in his next to Steve Asmussen’s promising sophomore Creator. Tisdale brought $110,000 at the May 2-year-old sale at Timonium, and according to his breeder, Tisdale looked and acted the part of a good horse right from the start. “He’s well made, well balanced and he has a beautiful head and neck,” Barbara Brown recalled. “And I think more importantly, he is a very sensible colt, he’s very smart and he had his act together right from the start. Every horse that mare (Mrs. Vanderbilt) has thrown have been smart, sensible types who showed very little immaturity. “And,” she added, “while they’re sensible they’ve all been assertive, take-charge types. I’m not the least bit surprised he’s doing well and I’m very much looking forward to seeing where he will run next.” Owned by Harlow Stables LLC, Tisdale is also a Delaware certified colt, one of more than 3,000 thoroughbreds who are eligible for lucrative monetary bonuses for those in the program who race at Delaware Park by being registered. Brown was one of those who worked for the establishment of the program and registers all of her foals with it. Tisdale’s trainer Ron Moquett said that Keeneland’s Grade 3 Lexington Stakes on April 16 or the $150,000 Northern Spur Stakes on the same day at Oakawn Park are possibilities for the colt, who is not nominated to the Triple Crown. “He’s a smart horse and is very comfortable racing two turns,” said Moquett, “I think he’s got a bright future.”
Horses returned to Delaware Park March 1 as the first outfits arrived to begin training for the track’s 2016 meeting.. Training currently is restricted to the five-eighths mile training track, Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association president Michael Gorham said, while the Delaware Park crews work to ready the main track. Gorham said that he expected horses to be able to use the main track within two to three weeks. Under the terms of an agreement between horsemen and the track, Delaware Park will host 81 days of live racing this year,which is the track’s 79th. The meet will begin Saturday, May 21 — Preakness day — and extend through October 15, with live racing taking place four days per week during June, July, August, and most of September and three days per week the rest of the time. The meet’s highlight, the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap, will take place July 16. “I’m looking forward to the meet,” said Gorham, who added that he’d shipped in his first group of horses yesterday. “We’re hoping for a good live racing season this year at Delaware Park.
Live Racing 79th Season
May 21, 2016 through October 15, 2016
Wilmington, Del., January 13, 2016 — Delaware Park received approval from the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission today on dates for the 2016 live racing season. The 79th season of live racing at the Stanton oval will feature 81 days with the meet starting on Saturday, May 21st and concluding on Saturday, October 15th. Live racing updates are as follows:
During the first week, live racing will be held three days per week on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.
Live racing will be added on Thursdays from June 2nd through September 22nd.
Beginning on September 29th, Thursdays will be dropped from the schedule and live racing will revert back to a Monday, Wednesday and Saturday schedule through closing day, October 15th.
During the season, the first post time is set for 1:15 p.m. daily.
Delaware Park’s premier races including the Delaware Oaks (Gr. III) and the Delaware Handicap (Gr. I), will be held on July 9th and July 16th, respectively.