Crunch Time for Delaware Park Racing Dates

Racing dates at Delaware Park for 2011 haven't been agreed upon yet.

In the absence of an agreement between horsemen and Delaware Park on racing dates, the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission is prepared to set its own schedule for 2011 during its next meeting Feb. 9.

Delaware Park management and the Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association have been negotiating for months. Delaware Park last year raced 113 days, up from 109 in 2009; in previous years the track raced 136 days.

“They’re not that far apart (in negotiations),” DTRC executive director John Wayne said Feb. 4, “but there is a difference of opinion on the number of racing days.”

Wayne said the racing commission wants to regulate horse racing, not racetrack business. He did say, however, the DTRC has statutory authority to set dates, and “is prepared to do so Feb. 9. The chairman has asked both parties to provide information and statistics to see if the (proposals) make sense.”

Wayne said if the two parties come to the meeting with an agreement, “I don’t think the commission would interfere unless there is a glaring problem that would affect the good conduct of the racing program.”

Delaware Park last year increased its all-sources handle 7.2% from 2009, an accomplishment given ongoing economic problems and an overall drop in pari-mutuel handle nationwide. Wayne credited management and the Delaware THA for helping bring about the positive numbers in 2010.

“We try to remind everyone we’re all involved in a broad partnership,” Wayne said.

Delaware Park last year opened May 1 for live racing. The meet concluded Nov. 6.