The Delaware Handicap has long been the spot for the greatest fillies and mares to make their mark on racing. With a purse of $750,000, it is one of the richest races for the ladies and each year the winner earns an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic.
The stirring stretch duel between Blind Luck and Havre de Grace in the 2011 edition of the Delaware Handicap evoked some of the grand history of the race.
Stopping at the paddock to watch the horses saddle up, one can imagine what it was like to watch Flower Bowl stroll the paddock in 1956. Other great fillies and mares like Busanda, Miss Grillo, Politely, Susan’s Girl, Obeah, Jameela and Summer Colony have also won the race.
For a race that was all but dead when Delaware Park closed in 1982, it has re-established itself as a race where the best fillies and mares run. Beyond that, the administration has worked to make DelCap day an attraction for gamblers and families alike.
While horseplayers have a huge air-conditioned sportsbook inside, families have a gigantic shady grove right up against the apron of the track. For DelCap day, there are pony rides, moon bounces, slides and bar-b-que grills. The fans who arrive early also get free DelCap baseball caps.
And while all of this makes for a great family outing, the paddock is the jewel. It might even achieve "Best Kept Secret" status. It is very much like walking into 1956. While you most likely will not get to see Blind Luck or Havre de Grace, Delaware Park still two more family fun days, where they put on a show bigger than DelCap Day, and a special fan appreciation day scheduled – the dates are August 13, September 3, and September 17 respectively.
For race fans with families, Delaware Park is a must visit.