Purse bonuses under the Delaware Certified Thoroughbred Program at Delaware Park were increased June 1.
The Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, sponsor of the DCTP, increased the bonuses for owners and certifiers from 15% to 20%. The program is based on equine residency in Delaware, which has no Thoroughbred breeding program.
Owners and certifiers are eligible for bonuses if their horses finish first, second, or third in any race, including stakes, at Delaware Park. The cap on bonuses in open stakes also was increased from $5,000 to $10,000.
“By increasing Delaware Certified bonuses for owners and certifiers, we hope to encourage more Thoroughbred owners to participate in the program, which will increase entries in races at Delaware Park as well as the economic benefit to Delaware’s agriculture economy,” Barbara Brown, a Delaware THA board member and chairperson of the DCTP Committee, said in a statement.
Despite purses in the $250,000-per-day range because of gaming revenue, Delaware Park has struggled to fill races early in its 136-day meet. Pennsylvania racetracks now have slots, and other tracks in the Mid-Atlantic region—all of which are now open for live racing—have solid purse structures.
Through June 3, field size at Delaware Park averaged 6.33 per race for the first 29 days of the meet, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems. The figure is up slightly from earlier in the meet, when it was below six. Purses through June 3 averaged $233,000 a day, though the track is not yet into the heart of its stakes season.
The DCTP launched in 2003 with 110 Thoroughbreds; in 2008 there are more than 1,300 horses in the program, officials said. More than $1.6 million in bonuses has been paid, and the economic impact on state agriculture has been pegged at about $10 million.
To qualify, a Thoroughbred must spend a minimum of 90 consecutive days on a Delaware farm or training facility prior to March 31 of its 2-year-old year, and race at Delaware Park. About 70 Delaware farms and training facilities participate.