Since his first meet at Delaware Park in 2010, five-time defending leading trainer Jamie Ness has always looked forward to the start of a new season at Delaware Park. The 81st season of live racing is set to open on Wednesday, May 30.
“Since the very first time I came here, I knew I would come back every year,” said Ness, who will have approximately 25 horses stabled at Delaware Park. “We always look forward to Delaware because of the success we have enjoyed here and the atmosphere. Delaware Park is a fun place to race and a great place to have horses. And Delaware is a great place to spend the summer.”
Delaware is close to home and the hub of operations for the 41-year-old native of Heron, South Dakota.
“Of course we have strings in Laurel and Parx, and Delaware Park is right in the middle of them, so my home base is always going to be Delaware Park,” said Ness. “We bought a farm in Maryland that is about a half-hour away from Delaware, and my kids are starting school, so Delaware is it for me.”
Since 2012, Ness has been the leading trainer at Delaware Park every season, with the only exception being when he finished third in the standings in 2014. Last season, he finished tied at the top of the standings with fellow perennial national and Delaware Park leader Scott Lake with 21 wins. Combined, Lake and Ness have won 8,608 career races in North America through May 15. Lake has 5,903 career victories, while Ness ranks 40th on the list with 2,705. They have won a combined 13 training titles at Delaware Park. Lake won seven straight Delaware Park titles from 2002 through 2008, which equaled the record for most consecutive set by the legendary Grover “Buddy” Delp from 1963 through 1969.
“It was competitive, but we kept things to down-to-earth,” Ness said. “Scott Lake is a mentor of mine. We go a long way back, and I always admired the way he took care of his business. So it was really nice to finish in a tie for leading trainer with him. We took it to the end and kept things real. I think I had a bunch in the last day and so did he, and somehow at the end of the day we both finished with the same number of wins.”
While Ness takes a great deal of pride in winning trainer titles, being leading trainer is not a goal he sets for himself.
“No, I never set that as a goal,” said Ness. “It would be nice, and if it happens, it happens, but we want to focus on running our horses, and we will see where we are at the end of the meet.”
Others preparing for the 2018 season at Delaware Park are Scott Lake, Tim Ritchey, Gerald Bennett, Sam Cronk, Randy Nunley, Michael Gorham, Anthony Pecoraro, Louis Albertrani, Jonathan Sheppard, Thomas Proctor, Arnaud Delacour, Ronald Alfano, Victor Carrasco Jr., Bobby Raymond, John Rigattieri, Wayne Potts, Richard Hendriks and Abel Castellano.