Chad Harmon

Delaware Park, Horsemen Extend Contract

The track will continue to offer 81 days of racing a year through 2016.

Delaware Park and the Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association signed a one-year extension to their current agreement, which was scheduled to run through 2015.

The deal, announced July 10, ensures 81 days of live racing per year through 2016. The initial three-year contract was signed just before the start of the 2013 meet. An earlier agreement called for 100 live racing days per year.

"I am pleased and excited to announce this agreement, which will take us through our 79th year of racing," Delaware Park executive director of racing John Mooney said in a release. "The stability and certainty this extension provides will help us attract additional horsemen to Delaware and will make a racing circuit in the mid-Atlantic more viable."

Much of the Delaware Park meet goes head to head with meets at Parx Racing in Pennsylvania and Monmouth Park in New Jersey. Also, Colonial Downs in Virginia usually is open as well in June and July, but the track isn't racing this year because of a contract dispute.

Trouble attracting horses was a primary reason management wanted to shorten the meet, which used to span more than 130 days. So far this year, key indicators are up slightly from the same period in 2013.

According to The Jockey Club Information Systems, field size at Delaware Park is averaging 7.29 horses per race, up from 6.75 for the same period last year. Purses are averaging $203,160 per day, up from $201,910.

"It is important for our horsemen to know we have a contract in place, the stable area will be open, and we will race 81 days," Delaware THA president Michael Gorham said. "Thoroughbred horse racing makes a significant contribution to the local economy, and we are working hard to ensure that it continues."