New faces and capital improvements will be evident at Delaware Park when the Stanton racetrack kicks off its 140-day meet April 7.
Lured by $38.5 million in stakes and overnight purses for a daily average of $260,000, trainer D. Wayne Lukas will send 40 horses to Delaware Park for the first time, while Northern California trainers Lonnie Arteburn and Brent Sumja will also make their first trip. Each trainer will be represented by 30 horses.
Allen Iwinski, last year's leading trainer and recently second at the Gulfstream Park meet behind Bill Mott, will be back, as will Bob Camac and Frank Passero.
The jockey colony will have representatives from across the country, including Mark Johnston, Paul Toscano, Enrique Jurado, Willie Martinez, and Jeremy Rose. Mike McCarthy, who has won the riding title the last five years, will return, as will Brent Bartram, Harry Vega, and Bob Colton.
Bill Fasy, executive vice president of Delaware Park, said improvements over the winter to the grandstand-clubhouse and the barn area have been extensive.
"On the backstretch, we completed a number of projects, including the construction of a new barn (at a cost of $100,000), putting new roofs on existing barns, plus installing sprinkler and electrical upgrades," Fasy said.
A new racing surface was put down, complete with a new drainage system. The track has applied for a permit to tear down the bunkhouses used by backstretch workers and erect modular ones, each with its own entrance. Also built was a new office for the Delaware Park Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.
Delaware Park has steadily improved its racing program in recent years because of revenue from video lottery terminals and slot machines.