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HRN Original Blog:
Dead Heat Debates

At Long Last, the Delaware Handicap is Grade One

After years of being snubbed, after years of being robbed of the status it so richly deserved, the Delaware Handicap has finally been restored as a grade one stakes race for 2013.
 
Delaware Park has been called one of the most beautiful tracks in America. The layout is great, the paddock is beautifully laid out, the atmosphere is family friendly, it’s an all-around great place to be. The Delaware Handicap has been stuck at a grade two status for a long, long while. Despite having a million dollar purse, being at a classic distance, and constantly bringing in some of the best distaffers in the older female division.
 
Since 2006 the race has produced and played host to a total of four champions, the most recent being Royal Delta. The first mare to really breathe some life back into the Del Cap was Fleet Indian. She brought a five race win streak into the race and dominated. The race catipulted her to two more grade one wins and a championship.
 
Others to use the race as a spring board were Swift Temper and Icon Project. Both went on to win highly prestigious grade ones in their subsequent starts. Hystericaladay, a grade one winner, who just seemed to be born in the wrong year showed how dominant she could be when away from the likes of Ginger Punch and Zenyatta. Life at Ten, another grade one winner, took the race with ease before running third in the Personal Ensign and winning another grade one, the Beldame. In most years she would have been crowned the champion of her division, but Zenyatta, again, stole that spotlight with a near perfect season, just missing by a head in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
 
Despite either playing host to grade one winners or producing them several years in a row, the race was still snubbed. After being denied the status for 2011, after Life At Ten’s success before and after the race, I was shocked, even more so when it was denied again in 2012. In 2011 it drew the 2010 Life at Ten, the 2010 three year old filly Champion Blind Luck winner of the Fleur de Lis and Vanity Handicap, and Apple Blossom winner Havre de Grace. The latter would go on to win the Woodward against males, dominate the Beldame and win Horse of the Year. Furthermore, the race was thought to be the moment of the year by many, as it proved to be the final and most thrilling showdown between Blind Luck and Havre de Grace, who were longtime rivals.
 
The 2012 edition may have fallen short of the 2012, but it still had star power, bring together champion Royal Delta and multiple grade one winner Awesome Maria. Love and Pride, who set the pace, also went on to win two more grade ones after the race. The Delaware Handicap also produced another thrilling finish, as Royal Delta made an early move to snag the lead, but looked leg weary as Tiz Miz Sue made a run before valiantly fighting back. She won the race by a neck showing a new dimension and the heart of a champion.
 
I wasn’t expecting much, after seeing my home track snubbed so many times, but when I saw the headline I became ecstatic. The pride in my home track has always been there, but after seeing that I was practically bursting. At long last the Delaware Handicap and Delaware Park was finally recognized and given what it deserved. Going into 2013 and looking at the distaff division I can’t wait to see another star studded cast come to Delaware, this time racing under its newly minted grade one banner. Go Delaware Park!!!!!
 

 

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Older Comments about At Long Last, the Delaware Handicap is Grade One...

ex post facto works at the race track too
And, they probably should go back and credit past editions of this race as Grade 1!!!
Good to see the Del Cap & Hopeful are Grade 1's next year!
Delaware Park is a beautiful track. I am glad the Delaware Handicap is grade one which it should always have been. Top fillies and mares have always contested this race and its former winners reads like a who's who in racing. I have a funny incident about The track. I went for a job interview many years ago for the Manhatten District Attorneys office as a prosecutor. The number three guy interviewed me. I have forgotten how we got onto it, but we started talking about racing and it seems he had worked at Delaware Park every summer. He told me how much he loved the atmosphere etc. he had a huge smile on his face when recounting those summers. Needless to say I got the job and a stunning recommendation from one of the top people at the DAs office. I will always credit Delaware Park for getting me that job.
Old track with the angular steeplechase course was even greater.
I am agreeing with you that this is a stable, required race to remain on the calendar and be supported AND as more strength accumulates in the Eastern half of the country, more and more EASTERN regional stakes races will be the pivots upon which year end honors will be made.
Travel, this is far from a sign. The race has hosted several top females and is not the top for that divsion in July. The track is beautiful, the atmosphere is great. You act as if you haven't been there. If so, i suggest that you do, you'll see exactly why it was given that status and why so many are fond of DE Park. Marylandgq, I doubt we'll get a BC, but if we were to ever, I would make sure to attend :)
The center of racing is moving east much faster than I at first thought, as California racing is now a pitiful, meek reminder of what it was not that long ago. ONLY Winter/Sprint Anita has much of a class base and it is usually all local talent. Sad as to what once was when the big stables used to come west for the winter.
Amen! The "Jewel of the East" certainly deserves to have a G1, and the Del Cap is to the East Coast as the "Big Cap" is to the West Coast. Now let's aim for the BC, say in 2020?!
You and me both Florida. Two of racing's biggest rivals, a champion, a horse that went on to beat males and become HOTY and still he was snubbed. But as you said, it has been made right.
I still cannot believe this race didn't get G1 status after Havre de Grace and Blind Luck's throw down last year. At least that oversight has finally been rectified.
Yes they. Did. Better late than never, and sometimes a wait make you savor it even more :)
I've been picking about this for at least two yrs now! Every so often I'd bring it up - A few months ago, I dropped the question about Del Cap's grade satus on DRF fb page; esp. after Luck's and Grace's epic duel. The grade system in this country is slightly retarded. Now, my question is: Will it be changed on the horses' resumes? I say it should!
A few years late, but at least the grading committee finally got it right.
This is long overdue. I don’t get why it wasn’t done sooner. When you can consistently bring in the top older females in the country year after year, you deserve Grade 1 status. Delaware is a smaller fish in a big pond, but yet, the Del Cap is one of the top quality races year after year. I can imagine how proud you are that this is your home track, so you should bask in your Grade 1 glory.

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Meet Laura Pugh












 

For as long as i can remember I have always loved horses and writing. The first race I ever watched was War Emblem's Preakness Stakes, but I didn't really start to get into racing until the next year where watched and cheered Empire Maker through the Derby, and yes, the Belmont.

I didn't begin writing until a few years later, when I created my own blog Horsin' Around. It didn't take long for me to realize that my niche was stirring the pot and creating heated debates, especially during the time of Big Brown vs Curlin and Rachel Alexandra vs Zenyatta. I was a Curlin and Rachel fan.

Now I am here under the name of Dead Heat Debates, and hoping to live up to that name. Have fun and let the opinions fly!