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Racetrack Diaries


Racetrack Diaries


Delaware Park/Charlestown Races/Philadelphia Park

October 20, 2001 

On Oct 20th, I and my friend Jim decided to take a racing weekend trip to 3
of our favorite tracks. Our first destination was Delaware Park. Delaware is
one of the better tracks on the East Coast. Years ago, Delaware was a beyond
bad track and was in danger of closing at one point. Slot machines saved the
day. Purses flew out the window. Heck, even trainers that usually ran their
horses on the West Coast decided to run this year at Delaware Park. Now you
know why all the 5 horse fields at Bay Meadows.

Delaware Park is a mile oval track with an inner turf course of 7 furlongs.
The jockey colony is also pretty impressive, as you have Ramon Dominquez
(currently battling Russell Baze for most wins in the country), Anthony
Black, Brent Bartram, Harry Vega, and the leading rider for the past 12 years
at the track Michael McCarthy. Michael is likely to lose that title this year
to a very hot apprentice Jeremy Rose (who is a lock for the Eclipse Award).
Jeremy is about 12 wins ahead with a few weeks left in the meet and already
broke the record for most wins at a meet there.

Several trainers include: Scott Lake (most wins as a trainer in the US),
Allan Iwinski and Timothy Richey. To show how much of a battle it is for
leading rider, in Race #1 Michael McCarthy with a morning line of 3-1 went
off at 9-1 and beat Jeremy Rose who went of 9-5. 2nd Race Jeremy got his
revenge when he went wire to wire in a $19,000 Starter Allowance as he beat
McCarthy who rode a close 2nd and tried to do everything but throw the
kitchen sink at trying to pass Rose.

There were 2 stake races on the card. The Post Card Handicap for a purse of
$40,000 was won by a great ride by Ramon Dominquez, who came from way off the
pace to blow past Victor Molina and win rather easily.

The feature race was the $75,000 Kelso Stakes. Anthony Black picked up a
mount from Travis Dunkelburger (who was at Laurel Park) and made the most of
it as #6 and #3 set the pace and battled it out down the stretch until
Anthony came roaring down the stretch and overtook both on his way to the
winner's circle.

Around 4pm it was time to go and hop in my rent a car for a 3 hour ride to
Charlestown Race Track in West Virginia. It is really weird how you get there
as you are driving in Maryland, then you go into Virginia for about a mile
and then you leave and are in West Virginia. Spooky.

Charlestown is a small 5 1/2 furlong track with no turf course. It has quick
turns and also like Delaware Park, they have slot machines. It is located
right in the outskirts of town and the building is only 2 stories high, with
a separate building for the slot machines. 1500 of them. Admission and
parking like Delaware are free. Charlestown is also one of the few tracks
that runs year round. They close for 2 weeks every now and then, but are open
year round for live racing. This track is also the claiming capitol of race
tracks. Where else can you run your horse in a claiming race for $2,500 and
the purse is like $10,000!!!

Travis Dunkelburger is the king of this track. He usually rides in MD/DE
during the day and then here at night. He also lives in Charlestown as well.
Travis is also in the race for most wins in the country as well. On this
night Travis had a good night as he bagged 4 winners on the card. I had 2
small exactas with him. Though that is the problem with him, as you never get
a price on any of his horses at this track so you need to play him in
trifectas or exactas. The sharp turns at this track are scary when you are
that close and the dirt kicks up and almost hits you as the horses fly by.

After the races Jim and I headed for a local Denny's for a late night snack
and we were joined by jockey Sarah Gibson. Sarah was telling us about the
sharp turns at the track and you have to be on the ball at all times while
riding Charlestown. She hopes to ride Monmouth Park next summer. Good Luck if
you do, Sarah.

Next day it was an early wake-up call for Philadelphia Park. Philadelphia
Park is another track that runs year round and parking and admission are free
as well. Sundays are a great day to go as they have 9 live races and they
show all the NFL games in a state of the art sports bar. Philadelphia Park is
a 1 mile course with a beautiful turf course. Scott Lake runs a lot of his
horses here and is the leading trainer for wins by far in the country. Jose
Flores (leading rider at the track) has first call on all his horses and they
are always bet down to chalk. As a matter of fact, a Lake horse won with
Flores and went off a measly 8-5. The one race that sticks out in my mind was
a 5 1/2 furlong turf race. Nick Santagata was on a horse that was on a 2 race
winning streak and this was the kind of race the horse loved, as he always
came from behind to win. Well, Nick had the horse just a bit back too far as
the race was won by a longshot. Nick came flying at the end and had to settle
for a photo losing 2nd place. The "bug" is always alive at this track as
Rolanda Simpson and Kendrick Caramouche have had past success at this track.
The "bug" riders usually are good for a few wins.

After live racing we got some dinner watched some football, played Great Lake
Downs (via simulcast) and then went home for a good nights sleep.
Thanks for joining us, and we'll see you next time around.

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