Delaware Park has certainly had its shares of ups and downs since first opening for business in the summer of 1937. Like most racetracks, Delaware Park flourished during the Golden Age of Thoroughbred racing in the middle of the 20th century while cultivating such historic races as the Delaware Handicap.
However, in the early 1980's the track fell on hard times and was eventually shuttered for a brief period. That is what helps to make all the more amazing the success Delaware Park is currently enjoying.
Delaware Park became one of the first racetracks in the country to offer slot machines in 1995 when state lawmakers passed the Horse Racing Redevelopment Act, which funneled a portion of revenue from the slot machines to racing purses.
Today, nearly three decades after the doors were initially shut on Delaware Park, the track has grown to become one of the region's top tourist destinations. Delaware Park now offers such entertainment options as full-scale casino gambling, parlay sports betting, and an 18-hole golf course in addition to solid Thoroughbred racing.
The 2012 Delaware Park race meet, which is the track's 75th season of live racing, will go for 100 days May 12 through Nov. 3. The track will run four-days of racing a week this year on Saturdays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. First post is 1:15 p.m. Eastern time.
One unique aspect of Delaware Park's racing season is it is the only track in the mid-Atlantic region that regularly cards races for Arabian horses.
If recent history is any indication, this will be a meet worthy of attention.
Last year's Horse of the Year, Havre de Grace, spent the majority of the season stabled at Delaware Park. Her campaign included a win in Delaware Park's Grade 3 Obeah Stakes, as well as a gut-wrenching nose loss to Blind Luck in the Delaware Handicap that many believe was the race of the year in 2011.
To further illustrate how the quality of racing at Delaware Park has increased, there have been 27 Delaware Park Maiden winners that have gone on to win graded stakes since 2002. That group includes the ill-fated Barbaro, who won the 2006 Kentucky Derby before suffering an injury in the Preakness Stakes that proved fatal.
Delaware Park is located in Stanton, Del., just outside of Wilmington and about 30 miles from Philadelphia. The original racetrack was designed by William duPont, a designer of 22 other racetracks during his lifetime.
The historic Delaware Handicap is the signature race of the Delaware Park racing season. Open only to fillies and mares, the Delaware Handicap is a 1 1/4-mile test of stamina and speed that has been won by some of racing's all-time great female racehorses. First run as the New Castle Handicap in the inaugural 1937 season, the name was changed to the Delaware Handicap in 1955.
The 1982-1985 editions were moved to Saratoga Race Course when Delaware Park was going through its difficulties.
The 2012 Delaware Handicap is scheduled for July 21.

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