The $1-million Delaware Handicap (gr. II) will be the highlight of a scaled-back $3.175-million stakes program at Delaware Park in 2009, the track announced Jan. 29.

The stakes schedule has been trimmed from last year, as have live racing dates. The 2008 stakes schedule was valued at $5.3 million during a 135-day meet. In 2009, racing will be held 116 days from April 25-Nov. 7.

Delaware Park was hit by short fields at the beginning of its meet last year, and at times had to scrap Thoroughbred races. Arabian events were used to fill programs.

In its 2008 late-fall newsletter, the Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association said total purses for 2009 could be $24 million to $26 million, down from an average of $33 million to $36 million in recent years. An overpayment at the end of the 2008 meet was more than $6 million, the Delaware THA said.

Delaware Park supports purses through revenue from video lottery terminals. Revenue on the gaming side as well as pari-mutuel handle has dropped.

Sunday racing has been dropped with the exception of June and July. In April, the track will race Saturdays, Mondays, and Tuesdays; in May, Saturdays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays; in June, Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays; in July, Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and one Wednesday (July 1); and from August-November, Saturdays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.

The Delaware Handicap, a 1 1/4-mile event for fillies and mares, will be the feature presentation of the $1.775-million Delaware Handicap Festival of Racing slated for July 18-19. The 72nd Delaware Handicap will be run July 19.  The supporting races on the card are the grade III Barbaro Stakes and the Light Hearted Stakes.

On July 18, 3-year-old fillies will take center stage in the 58th Delaware Oaks (gr. II), a $250,000 race at 1 1/16 miles. The supporting features that day are the grade III Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes and the R.R.M. Carpenter Jr. Memorial Stakes.

Last year's Delaware Handicap Festival of Racing offered stakes worth $2.5 million. The 2008 Oaks, for instance, was valued at $500,000. The Barbaro has been cut from $300,000 to $150,000 in 2009.

Horses eligible to the Delaware Certified program will have a special day Aug. 22, when four stakes are scheduled. Each event is worth $75,000.

The complete stakes schedule is as follows:

DATE RACE SEX/AGE DISTANCE PURSE

 
25-Apr Vincent A. Moscarelli
 Stakes 3+ 6F $75,000
13-Jun John W. Rooney Stakes FM3+ 1M1/8T $75,000
20-Jun Susan's Girl Stakes F3 1M1/16 $125,000 ($50,000 Breeders' Cup fund)
20-Jun Obeah Stakes (Grade III) FM3+ 1M1/8 $125,000
18-Jul Delaware Oaks (Grade II) F3 1M1/16 $250,000
18-Jul Robert G. Dick Stakes
 (Grade III) FM3+ 1M3/8T $200,000 ($50,000 Breeders' Cup fund)
18-Jul RRM Carpenter Jr. Stakes 3+ 1M1/16 $100,000
19-Jul Delaware Handicap (Grade II) FM3+ 1M1/4 $1 million
19-Jul Barbaro Stakes (Grade III) 3 1M1/16 $150,000
19-Jul Light Hearted Stake FM3+ 7 1/2FT $75,000
22-Aug *New Castle Stakes 3+ 6F $75,000
22-Aug *Tax Free Shopping Stakes FM3+ 6F $75,000
22-Aug *Small Wonder Stakes F2 5FT $75,000
22-Aug *First State Dash Stakes 2 5FT $75,000
5-Sept Kent Stakes (Grade III) 3 1M1/8T $250,000 ($50,000 Breeders' Cup fund)
12-Sept Endine Stakes (Grade III) FM3+ 6F $150,000 
12-Sept *George Rosenberger FM3+ 1M1/16T $75,000 
12-Sept *DTHA Governor's Day 3+ 1M1/8 $75,000
3-Oct Dover Stakes 2 1M1/16 $75,000
10-Oct Blue Hen Stakes F2 1M1/16 $75,000

* Denotes restricted race

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